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 Racecourse

Building the new stand, Christmas Day in Listowel Workhouse and G.A.A. Social in 1960

Heron in Beale

Photo: Ita Hannon


John Kelliher Records Progress at the Racecourse


Ireland in 1908

Junior Griffin ponders what Ireland was like when Listowel Badminton Club came into being.

The year of
1908 was still in living memory of the great famine, Ireland’s own holocaust.

There were
several workhouses set up around the Listowel area to cater for the destitute
men, women and children during the famine period and there was at least one
still in use in the early years of the 20th century .  This was
located around the area where the hospital is today; indeed many older people
still refer to the Mass in the hospital church as “the workhouse Mass”.

The workhouse
was under the auspices of the “Listowel Board of Guardians” and the “Kerryman”
report of the childrens Christmas party under that body in 1907 read as

Christmas treat to the Children of Listowel Workhouse

“The Xmas
treat entertainment which has become a pleasing annual event in the lives of
the little children of the Listowel Union, was carried out in an admirable
manner on the night of New Year’s Day.

Mrs. Foran,
Lady Guardian for Listowel, and vice-chairman of the board, was-as been her
wont since she became a guardian of the poor-the central figure, as well as the
originator of this year’s Xmas tree entertainment, and the manner in which the
various details incidental to such pleasurings were carried out, as well as the
considerateness with which she contrived to give pleasure to the individual
little ones of the Workhouse by her kindly and tasteful distribution of the
good things provided, gives evidence of her thoroughness of head and
heart.  The delight of the little ones was apparent in every nook and
corner, where they could be seen gloating over their presents either singly or
in groups.

The Ladies
who were present were and who assisted in distributing the toys, etc., were-
Miss J. Broderick, Miss Hartnett, Miss Lyons, Miss Nolan, Miss D. Nolan, Miss
McElligott, Miss O’Donnell.  The Matron of the workhouse and the school
mistress were most assiduous in securing comfort for the children.

The band of
the Listowel Total Abstinence Society attended the entertainment, and ably
rendered choice selections of music from 8 to 10 o’clock.  This did much
towards enhancing the pleasure of the little workhouse children, and enough
credit can hardly be given to the band, individually and collectively for their
decent, humane and manly action in their giving to the children of the very
poor, if even for only two short hours in the year, a glimpse into the joyful
and mirthful things of life, which are by forces of circumstances to them
denied, and which to the more fortunate little ones outside the workhouse walls
are matters of daily, perhaps hourly occurrence. It is particularly creditable
that each individual member of the band played his part with much zest and
earnestness for those little waifs and strays of humanity as he could have done
in the palace of a King and for the most select of audiences.  They well
merited the thanks which Mr. Maurice Griffin, editor of the “Kerryman”,
bestowed on them, and the proceedings terminated, leaving everyone with the
pleasurable knowledge that those for whom the treat was inaugurated were for
this one night as happy as if there was never a shadow of a care or sorrow in
this vale of tears.

following are the contributors- Mrs. R.H. McCarthy, The Glebe, box of toys;
Miss McElligott, Mount Rivers, beautiful dressed doll, boxes of sweets, cakes,
chocolates and picture books; Miss Hartnett, two gipsy dolls; Miss Foynes,
mother-hubbard doll; Miss Stewart,  Sailor doll; Miss McAuliffe, box of
toys; Mrs. Barry, tin of biscuits; Mrs Crowley, 2 boxes candy; Mr. T Walsh,
oranges; Mr. Daly, oranges;

Corridan, box of sweets; Mrs. Foran, £2.

That was the
Listowel around the time that the Badminton Club was founded, indeed harsh
times for very many. 


G.A.A. Social in 1960

Margaret Dillon / Ward sent me this photo from 1960. It was taken in Walsh’s Ballroom.

Left to Right; Seated is Bryan MacMahon paying the waiter for his orange juice. The waiter might be Paddy Moloney from Charles St.  Next to Bryan is Thomas Ashe, Margaret Dillon, Garda René Farrell (Kilavullen) R.I.P., and Vincent Moloney, Bridge Rd. The man on the left with his back to the camera is Tony Barrett and John Keane is on the right. Of significance is the glasses of minerals on the table and the pioneer pins in the lapels.


Tidy Town Volunteers Gardening on Market Street This Week


Then and Now

Facelift for Listowel racecourse, A Polish Soldier Bear and a great old memory shared

“Tis the last rose of summer…..”

In the park beside the ball alley

Walking through the park is a joy in autumn.

I don’t know why the bark has peeled from this tree in this strange pattern.

And still one more rose.

Bridge Road :November 2015


A Listowel Memory 

Berkie Browne, father of Eric and grandfather of Berkie, pictured here with his 2 pals, died at a very young age.

Owen MacMahon remembers the night he died well for it was the very night that Listowel Players won The All Ireland Drama Festival with John B.’s Sive.

He died in Dublin and was brought by hearse back to Listowel for burial. The hearse stopped at St. Michael’s and the coffin was shouldered from there down Church St. to the church. There was no one way system then.

Owen remembers it as the biggest funeral he ever saw in Listowel. He remembers Church Street black with people, thronging the streets and the road to pay their respects.


A Soldier Bear

This picture was posted in Edinburg Spotlight online. 

“Saturday 8th November 2015 saw the official unveiling of the Wojtek Memorial in West Princes Street Gardens. Wojtek, the “Soldier Bear” – was adopted by Polish troops in 1943  and helped them carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino.”

Wojciech survived the war and lived out his retirement in Edinburg Zoo where he died in 1963. The picture above shows the last surviving soldier to serve with Wojciech  who travelled from Poland for the unveiling.

Above is a picture of the wall that surrounds Alan Beattie-Herriott’s stunning sculpture. If you are in Edinburg, you should make your way to West Princes’ Street Gardens.


Listowel racecourse is getting a refurbishment job done

All photos are by John Kelliher


A Chance Meeting

I met Paud Pelican on Courthouse Road last week. A certain blog follower in exile will be glad to see him looking well. 

All Ireland semi final 2014 and Presentation Convent, Listowel, 2014 and Irish Famine Orphan Commemoration in Sydney

What a match!  All Ireland Football semi final 2014…the replay

Marc O Sé comes on as an impact sub.      (photo; John Kelliher)

A fact from Weeshie Fogarthy seemed sad before the match but was forgotten in the euphoria of victory;

“End of sequence stretching 101 championship matches an O Sé brother has started for Kerry. 

1995 Munster final v Cork last time.”

Tralee’s photo says it all;  rolling back the years, Ogie Moran, is filled with pride and joy as he greets the Kerry players after the match. His son, David, was one of the heroes of the thrilling game.

Only in Kerry! In Listowel the score was announced at evening mass and in another neighboring parish the mass was delayed because the match went to extra time. Football is a religion in these parts.

All green and gold final in 2014


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness….

Today is Sept 1 2014. Autumn is upon us and soon it will be Race Week and summer will be officially over.

Above is the bridge connecting town to the racetrack.

Below is how the track looks this week.


A poem for mammies at back to school time

Another tear jerker found by Doreen Buckley.


Former Presentation Convent Listowel

I apologise to the people who will be greatly saddened by these images. This is how it looks today; a sorry sight.

The cross
From the chapel side
Gate from the old primary school into convent garden
convent chapel


Irish Famine Orphans’ Commemoration, Sydney, August 31 2014

Most of my blog followers will be familiar with the story by now so I’ll just put it in a nutshell. During the Great Famine in Ireland young girls were shipped to Australia from Irish workhouses under a scheme called The Earl Grey Scheme.

The stories of the girls who left Kerry is well told by historian, Kay Caball, in her excellent book,

The descendants of the “girls” in Australia have established a permanent memorial in Hyde Park Barracks because this is where the immigrants were held following their arrival in the colony.

Every year a commemorative event is held in Sydney.  Julie Evans, a descendant of Bridget Ryan and a keen family historian, goes there every year. She sent these photographs taken by her husband, Glyn, so that I could bring you a flavour of the event.

 This is a recreation of the dormitories in which the girls slept. Their belongings were kept in a trunk beside the bed. The room looks fairly spartan by today’s standards but if we remember that these young girls were coming from overcrowded disease ridden workhouses in Ireland, we will understand that, by comparison, this was the lap of luxury.

This is the actual trunk which came with one of the orphans,  She was Margaret Hurley, from Galway. Julie found her details on the orphan database. She and her descendants treasured and preserved it.

  • Surname : Hurley
  • First Name : Margaret
  • Age on arrival : 17
  • Native Place : Gort, Galway
  • Parents : Thomas & Mary (mother living at Gort)
  • Religion : Roman Catholic
  • Ship name : Thomas Arbuthnot (Sydney 1850)
  • Workhouse : Galway, Gort
  • Other : shipping: house servant, cannot read or write, relative in colony: uncle, Thomas Welsh. To Yass Depot. Empl as house servant by WH Broughton, ‘Broughtonsworth’, Burrowa, £7-8, 2 years; married at Yass on 7 Feb 1852 to Joseph Patterson [came free with brother in 1838 from Edenderry]; 7 children – two sons returned to Ireland, one took over the Patterson Funeral business in Edenderry; Margaret died near Parkes on 5 Sep 1922. c. 90yrs old. Beth Turner: maxbeth[at] Pat Williams; spworner[at]; Rose Perry: inverness[at]; Joan Davis – email us please.

This is songwriter, Brendan Graham, who has taken a keen interest in the orphans and  has written a lovely song, Orphan Girl.  Here it is, sung by the UCD Choral Scholars;

This is the paragraph in Julie’s email referring to Brendam Graham and the cd with the song.

“Today was the launch of a CD featuring Brendan Graham’s song Orphan Girl. It also has The Whitest Flower and You Raise Me Up.  Brendan Graham has given all royalties to the Irish Famine Memorial Commemoration Committee for their fund which supports the education of migrant women in Sydney today. Very generous I thought.”

Thank you, Julie and Glyn

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