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 Races 2016 Page 1 of 2

One man’s trip to The Island, Brosna and a bypass of sorts

Listowel Handball Alley, October 2016


David Looby is a journalist with The Wexford People. The photo and the essay below recount his experience of his trip “home’ for the recent Listowel Races 2016:

I’ve lately joined the ranks of the school drop parents.

You know the sleepwalking types who are half-human, half school bags and lunch boxes. The ones that look immaculate on the first day, but revert to tracksuits and bearded, red eyed grumps by day two (the men that is!).

My daughter couldn’t wait to get started and barely looked over her shoulder at The Good Woman and I as we left her behind with her wonderful teacher and all her new classmates. 

I had a week off last week and, owing to some convenient amnesia and force of habit, imagined a week of leisure, down at the Listowel Races catching up with friends from my primary schoolgoing days, throwing back pints. 

The holiday got off to a rocky start as I picked up a dose, followed by The Little Fella getting a fever. My plans were falling apart as I came to terms with the reality that I was tied to school drop off and pick up duties every day, along with toilet training and night ‘lifts’ to the toilet. Undaunted, Tuesday saw me arrive at the heart of zen-like peace in the South East, St Mullins, from where I jogged to the second lock gates and continued walking until the third lock but couldn’t make it as far as Graiguenamanagh as I had to be back from the school pick-up (and I was shattered). I drank in the sweeping views under a milk white sky, taking my time on my way back. 

Wednesday was a doctor’s appointment for The Little Fella, followed by a morning enjoying the cafe life of Wexford with him, during which I picked up a new book before going home and lapping up the sunshine. Thursday was a walk from Slade to Hook Lighthouse and CD shopping.

Determined to get away at the weekend I hatched a plan to visit friends in Dublin, my first trip to the city in three years would be amazing, I told myself, only to discover via Whatsapp that said friends were heading to Kerry. 

With a daunting list of work to do around the house ahead of our children’s birthday party this weekend, I started to feel the walls closing in around me. The holiday was half way over and drinks needed to be organised to cap it all off, but where?

For years I’ve been trying to get back to Listowel for the races. Every year growing up in Listowel, the races and Fleadh Cheoil meant a week off school and the arrival of ‘the bazaar’ in town, along with a colourful host of characters, enjoying marathon sessions. Back then the town was buzzing and there was a wonderful atmosphere as you crossed the bridge over the River Feale to the racecourse, to the lilting sound of ‘throw me down something’ from Travellers who enjoyed the good fortune of (some) punters. 

Such sounds could not be heard over the thunderous Feale river on Saturday when, accompanied by my financial turf adviser, (my Dad), I returned to the race track on a glorious Autumn day. My tactic of backing horses with fun, quirky names was abandoned on the advice of my father so I went with ‘good’ each way prospects, all of whom came nowhere. After the races we walked the streets of the lovely north kerry town stopping into the institution that is The Shebeen pub, where people were relaxing in the great company of its owners, chatting about this year’s festival, which had a record crowd for Ladies Day on Friday. I returned to Wexford on Sunday night exhausted after a great escape (and a few too many) in Kerry.

Wexford People



Because a Brosna emigrant was very kind to me when I was sick, I resolved that , when I was well again,  I would visit Brosna and take a few photos to bring her home closer to her. This is for you, Eileen.

St. Moling’s church dominates the square.

This is the square with the bell in the foreground.

I went into the lovely little church and photographed some of the stained glass windows which were donated by parishioners. Brosna must have had some wealthy and generous families at one time.

The view from the church door

Tree in the church grounds

The people of Brosna are ecumenical. They have given this old bell from the Protestant church a prominent in The Square.


Golf View Bypass

If you need to get through Listowel fast during the roadworks there is a bypass from Cahirdown to the bridge through the old golf course. It costs a euro.


Two Humans of Listowel

Paula Hannon and Maurice Kelliher on William Street yesterday, October 13 2016

The very very last of my Pictures from Listowel Races 2016

The man in the middle is Davy Russell’s father in law and he loves Listowel Races. He reprised his style from last year with his very arresting Heineken hat.

Nora Sheahan’s friend has been coming to Listowel for two decades. 

Judges and interviewers dressed in style for Ladies’ Day.

Some of the bookmakers made the effort as well. These two female bookies were particularly well turned out.


I was everywhere taking photos at The Races. It was only to be expected that the snapper would be snapped. Elizabeth Brosnan is responsible for this great photo. She got me to a T., in among the fashionistas, camera in one hand and race card in the other.


Jimmy Hickey was as good as his word. He brought me a scrapbook and lots of photographs of his dancing exploits over the years. I just now have to photograph it and sort it all out.

Watch this space!


Artist in Residence

Jonathan Gräuel is the artist in residence at Olive Stack’s gallery.

This is his Tidy Town picture which is on display in the gallery. I took the snap from Twitter.

And the winner is………

Photo of a Happy Man

Kieran Moloney of Listowel Tidy Towns Committee with the Best Small Town Trophy which has only once before been won by any town on two occasions.

John Kelliher’s marvellous image of our beloved small town.


Listowel Tidy Towns Vintage Day 2016…. My Part in it

This is the line up of finalists in Listowel Tidy Towns Vintage, Upcycle and Recycle’s Fashion event at Listowel Races 2016.

The competition was judged by Orlagh Winters and a representative from An Taisce. The lady in red on the far left was the winner. Niamh Kenny, second from right came third and Helen Culhane on the far right was a finalist

But the lady in blue is the cailín in whom I had a special interest. She is Mary Moylan and she was wearing the suit I wore as a “going away outfit” on my wedding day in July 1975.

This is me going away. You can see my bouquet in my hand as I was about to throw it, as per age old tradition, to the unmarried girls who were guests at the wedding. The photo was taken outside the Deerpark Hotel in Charleville. That is the back of my late mother’s head in the foreground.

This is an old ad for Dorene. My dress and jacket were made by Dorene.

It was purchased in Todds of Limerick.  (photos from the internet)

You will agree that the outfit withstood the ravages of time better than its owner.

I am known in my family as a hoarder but my brother claims that keeping a suit that doesn’t fit me for over 40 years is a step too far even for me.

Mary with her sister, Alice.

Mary with her friend, Aoife, who provided the hat to complete the look. Mary’s jewellery was her grandmothers and her bag was originally her mother’s.

Kieran Moloney of Listowel Tidy Town’s chatting to one of the sponsors.

Mary won a hamper of goodies and a voucher for a Listowel shop. Listowel business people are really supportive of this competition and the prizes were substantial.

(Mary looked after me well too)

As well as the beautiful bouquet, she treated me to a delicious dinner which she cooked herself.

I’ll be rummaging in back of the wardrobe again for next year!

Mary’s interview with Orlagh Winters is here;

Mary Moylan interviewed by Orlagh Winters


Only in the USA.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election this November, we will witness history being made.

If Hillary Clinton wins the U.S. presidential election, it will be the first time in history that two U.S. presidents have slept with each other!

If Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election, it will be the first time in history that a billionaire moves into public housing vacated by a black family.


This sign is proudly displayed on my Mayo neighbour’s wall. I hope he has something to cheer about very soon.

Listowel Tidy Towns’ Vintage Day at Listowel Races 2016

Where  Things old are valued

Vintage Day at Listowel Races
is my favourite of all the side shows that take place during race week. It is
the brainchild of Listowel Tidy Towns and every year it  goes from strength to strength.

The marquee was packed on
Saturday Sept 16 2016. There was none of this pink wristband palaver. We were
all welcomed in . The interviews, sympathetically conducted by Orlagh Winters,
were entertaining and enjoyable. None of this “I bought this here and that there,” of Friday’s fashion fest. This was trips down memory lane, charity shop finds
and a few obvious lies…all part of the fun.

First up were the men and Joe
Broderick stole the show. He spun more yarns than a silkworm but he is such a
lovable rogue that we all played along. He flirted with Orlagh, flattered and
amused the audience and best of all he looked a million dollars. He was a hard act
to follow but the stag on the inflatable horse came close. He had come from
London with 14 friends and they were having a great time at The Races. Stag
parties at The Races is a growing trend in recent years. There was also a hen
party but they were from closer to home, from Limerick.

In this competition, the story of the outfit is
part of the fun. 

Anne Leneghan of Kanturk and Bishopstown was sponsored by the
Kanturk St. Vincent de Paul shop. She asked them to be on the lookout for
anything vintage for her to wear and they found just the ticket….a 1970s bottle
green crimpelene suit and they also sourced the alligator bag, with the claws on
show, for her. 

I recorded part of Anne’s interview with Orlagh.

Anne Leneghan Interview

Anne’s friend, Listowel girl, Maria Stack had a great story to tell
about her accessories. Maria bought her bag for €4 in The Killarney St. Vincent de Paul shop. When she got it home, she examined it more closely and this is what she discovered.

Maria’s charity shop find was a Beverley bag. When she Googled Beverley bags she found out that the wife of Ireland’s first Uachtarán, Seán T. OCeallaigh carried a Beverley bag on her arm on their first state visit to the U.S. for St. Patrick’s Day. That bag is now in the National Museum of Ireland.

Inside Maria’s bag was the original tag.  Maria’s bag  cost £5. 15s first day.

In the bag Maria also found a ticket for the viewing gallery at The Empire State Building. So Maria’s bag had a trip stateside too.

Above is a photograph of the christening dress Maria’s mother, the very talented Betty Stack, made for her children. She permitted Maria to use it to make her hat for Vintage Day. Maria knew that the treasured christening robe was a family heirloom. She used all her millinery skills to create the chapeau without ever taking a scissors to her mother’s creation.

That’s Betty on the right of her great friend, Nora Sheahan.

Norella Moriarty
was in her going away outfit, set off by her great grandmother’s silver brooch.
Her uncle posted it to her in an
envelope to wear at her wedding in America.

Helen Carmody wore her wedding suit. She looked stunning.

 Other outfits were sourced from vintage shops and relative’s wardrobes.

Many of the contestants were attired in such timeless style that they could have entered the best dressed lady competition of the day before and outshone many of the very expensive ensembles on parade.

Deirdre O’Sullivan’s orange and black outfit was a typical classic.

Stylish Eilish described her fetching ensemble as last minute dot com. Her first choice failed to work out, so she begged, borrowed but didn’t steal to put this yellow and black stunner together.

Miriam O’Connor dyed her hair a vintage shade of grey to set off her eye catching style.

Niamh Kenny was resplendent in a timelessly elegant outfit  Her coat she picked up in a shop in Cork and her gorgeous shoes and bag were once worn by her mother.

Imelda Murphy was beautifully turned out. She couldn’t enter the competition as she was involved in organising it.

The entrants on stage.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the winner and the runner up.

Best Dressed Man at Listowel Races 2016, Gogglebox and a new boutique on Market St.

Two Famous Listowel Men

Billy Keane and Junior Griffin photographed by Mary McGrath at a surprise birthday party organised by his friends in badminton in John B. Keanes on Friday September 23 2016


Best Dressed Man Competition 2016

The ladies on the left were the judges of the best dressed man at Listowel Races 2016.  Above they are recruiting a local finalist for their competition.

These are some of the finalists with the judges.

Winner all right!

Will you look at how easy it is for the men. They can rock up in fine comfortable brogues and still win. The unstated dress code for the ladies includes vertiginous heels.


Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Racegoers

The Best Dressed Man competition took place on Thursday. Here are a few more people who were on The Island on Wednesday or Thursday, enjoying a great day’s racing.


Meanwhile some people had to work

The couple on the left of this picture came all the way from the U.S. to watch their horse run in Listowel. He obliged; He won.


Cavan Twins Replace O’Donovans as the Nation’s favourite Brothers

I read this story on and the photo is from there too. Apparently the story goes that there is now a programmme on TV3 in which we are expected to watch people watching television. These farmers, who are twins and live in Cavan, are the stars.

Part of the irony is that they don’t actually like television so they are eloquently dismissive of the programmes they are watching.


Market Street


Golfer, Rory McIlroy with Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill. Arnold Palmer, the king of the game passed away recently.

Rory posted this photo on his Twitter feed.

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