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 Tennis Club Page 1 of 2

Tennis in the Rain, Advice for Emigrants and Discount shops in Listowel


Photo: Chris Grayson


Rain Didn’t stop Play

I have a kind of policy of not naming anyone if I can’t name everyone. So you’ll have to enjoy seeing yourself and your friends in Danny Gordon’s photos from 1987.


A National Treasure

This artefact is from the National Treasures collection. It reminds of a very different world in the 1950s and 50s

“A Catholic Handbook. This little booklet measuring 9cm x 11.5cm, which cost sixpence highlights a very different Ireland. Published in 1954, the handbook was drawn up because “economic difficulties especially the scarcity of work in counties like Mayo, Kerry and Galway have caused boys and girls to leave homes in Ireland and seek a living in the land across the water.” When I took up my first teaching post in Roscommon in 1974, it was part of the library in the school. I was given the responsibility to sort out the school library and when I found this document, I decided to keep it because it speaks volumes about Ireland at a certain period in time. You wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry reading it but when I first read it, I recognised its historical value. In many ways, it was sad that it was a reference book in a school library where many students would have emigrated from. It gives insight into the loneliness, isolation, and fear of emigration in the 1950s. On arrival in England, the book advises that one of the first things you should do is look up the local parish priest.”

Thanks to Eileen Fahey


Listowel’s Discount Stores

Price Savers closed on Saturday February 2 2019. It is another in a long list of discount stores to come and go.

Meanwhile I had started a debate as to where this one was located. Let me tell you that my super sleuth a.k.a Cathy Healy, remembered the shop well because it was there she spent all her communion money on fancy paper, pencils and toys.

Others weren’t so sure and thought it was on Church Street at Bunyan’s, the location of the old NCBI shop.

A look at both shops today confirms Cathy’s conviction. I think people confused Crazy Prices with Wisebuys.

Emma McElligott spent a euro or two in Crazy Prices and she remembered it well at the corner of William Street and Market Street in the old Paul Shanahan’s shoe shop. Years later she ran into the people who used to run it at a fair in Curraghchase

Just to be sure to be sure, Cathy contacted Mary Buckley who was a good friend of Sheila McCormack, daughter of the owners, Tess and Jerry McCormack and she confirmed what we knew by now…definitely it is the premises that is now Horan’s Healthstore. It was run as a discount store by Nora Hannon after the McCormack family and then as Walsh Bros Electrical before Horan’s Healthstore

By the way does anyone remember “Tis only a pound”?


Lyreacrompane Memories

Lyre emigrant, Liam Murphy sent this poignant email

Hi Mary, 

Thanks once again for your Listowel Connection Blog so great as usual, nice to read and see the different items from home. In the “Lyre 1956”,  photo of the opening of the new church. In the front row kneeling 3rd from left , that’s me, notice on  left sleeve the black diamond in memory of my mother who had passed away Sept 5th 1956. Back then and I don’t know when the custom ended, the male family members wore it for twelve months as I recall after a family death.

Thanks again, have a great year. Liam (Bill).

That black diamond that Liam refers to seems to have fallen completely into disuse. So too the wearing of headscarfs by women and skull caps by young boys.


All Good Things Come to an End

Wednesday Feb 6 2019 saw raw last of the Literary evenings hosted by Listowel Writers Week in The Rose Hotel Tralee. The super star guest on this occasion was the spoken word poet, Stephen James Smith. It was a lovely intimate session where this honest man revealed much of himself to as as well as delivering some of his poems in his own inimitable style. Great night! Another triumph for Listowel Writers’ Week.


Stephen James with the writers Week gang, Mary Cogan, Catherine Moylan, Máire Logue and Seán Lyons

Eilish, Sinead and Bernie were working hard promoting Listowel Writers Week.

Watching Tennis, Barna Bog, Féile an tSolais 2019 and a 1972 pantomime

Abandoned House in Valentia Island

Photo: Chris Grayson


Watching the Tennis in the 1980s

Photos; Danny Gordon


Bord na Mona and Barna Bog

This photo was taken by a Bord na Mona employee, Mr. E Switzer, (related to the Grafton Street family) in 1948. It shows a tipper full off hand cut turf being loaded on to a Cadbury’s Rathmore truck.

Photograph and information from Bord na Mona Living History


Can you Help?


Féile an tSolais is looking for 15-20 volunteer artists and craftpeople, to complete an amazing project for its 2019 festival this October/November.

Key Skills

– Metal Fabrication

– Wirework

– Experience using Dremel tools

– Sculpture

– Upcycling

Please send a short bio with your name, age, skills and experience.


The beautiful Illustration below is called ‘The Destruction of Leviathan’ by Gustav Doré.


When the Pantomime was the Talk of the Town

Jack and The Beanstalk in 1972 was a show not to be missed.  With scriptwriters like John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon and the panto king himself Declan Mangan, Colm O’Brien and Cathal Fitzgerald in charge of the music and a cast of thousands this panto had all the ingredients for success. So successful was it that it awakened an appetite among the audience for an annual panto and the players   and other participants had been bitten by the bug. So pantomime became part of Listowel’s entertainment calendar for a few years. People cherish very fond memories of those years. It also raised much needed funds for the building and fitting out of Listowel Old Folks’ Home, now Áras Mhuire.


People You Meet at a Conferring

Bob Geldof was lucky enough to run into Martin Moore at a recent conferring ceremony.

Church St, Piseógs, Ballylongford school and Listowel Tennis and Listowel Men’s Shed

Main Street. Listowel in January 2019


No Listowel Connection

I saw this on a Photos of Dublin site. It reminded me of something out of The Keystone Cops .


Then and Now


If you believe this, you’ll believe anything

From Dúchas, the folklore collection

One night as a nurse was returning to Newtown after attending to a patient in Knockanure she was passing a fort when a man came out of it and asked her to come in to see his wife who was sick. She went in, and there were other people who used to dip their fingers in a pot of stuff which looked like soup in the corner and rub it to their eyes. When the nurse was leaving the house she did the same. A few days after that the nurse went to the fair and she met the man again. She shook hands with him. The people at the fair could not see him at all and they were surprised at what the nurse was doing The man told her to close her left eye and to see if she could see him. She said she could not. He then told her to close her right eye and to see if she could see him. She said she could. He struck her left eye with a stick which he had in his hand and she was blind in that eye ever after.

Collector- John Culhane
Informant- Dan Cunningham, Age 76 Address Newtownsandes, Co. Kerry.


Ballylongford School

Photo shared by Liam O’Hainnín on Facebook


Listowel Juvenile Tennis 1980s

Photo: Danny Gordon


Listowel Men’s Shed

What is a Men’s Shed?

A Men’s Shed is a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place where men come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities.

Men’s Sheds are open to all men regardless of age, background or ability. It is a place where you can share your skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills and develop your old skills.

New members are always welcome and can be assured that there is something of interest for everyone as the men have ownership of their Shed and projects and decide their own program of events. Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community, connecting to friends and maintaining an active body and an active mind. Becoming a member of a Men’s Shed provides a safe and busy environment where you can find many of these things. Also, importantly, there’s no pressure. Men can just come and have a chat and a cuppa if that’s all they’re looking for.

Some of the Listowel men taking a break

Listowel Men’s Shed meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11.00 in 56 Feale Drive. New members are welcome.

Photo and information from Listowel Men’s Shed Facebook page

Below are some of the plasterwork projects they completed recently and you can acquire one for a reasonable donation which will go towards purchasing materials for their workshops.


Shop Closure

Price Savers on William Street is closing down.


Bill O’Flaherty

I posted this lovely old photograph yesterday and it struck a chord with local historian, Martin Moore.

Here is what he wrote;


Further to email from John Buckley of Roscrea, and
Tanavalla, Bill Flaherty served as a weight master
in the market.

Before that he served as a policeman in the RIC.

His wife was Dwyer and her brother was a most prominent
policeman in New Zealand. In fact, the Dwyers had at
least 4 generations of policemen, including Michael
of Moneygall, mentioned by John.

Thanks John for sharing this.

Barbers, Lyre in 1956, Mike Alymer R.I.P., a police family and The Kingdom, Mecca for Tourists

Two of Listowel’s Newer Barbershops, Then and Now

and the premises as they looked in one of their many iterations.



Lyreacrompane Folk in 1956

Lyreacrompane Development Association shared this great photo on Facebook 


Ní Bheidh a Leihéad Arís Ann

photo: Danny Gordon

Mike Aylmer

Listowel tennis has been a bit of a theme with me recently. This man, the late Mike Alymer, made a huge contribution to tennis in Listowel . Mike was in his declining years when I met him but he still strode the courts in the Cows Lawn like a Colossus and commanded huge respect from young and old.

Mike passed away on 12 May 1996. He was a native of Castledermot, Co. Kildare. His father was editor of The Carlow Nationalist and his mother was principal of Castledermot National School, next door to the family home. After secondary education in Rockwell, Michael qualified as a pharmacist. He set up and ran a pharmacy in Carlow Town. After the death of his wife, Frances, he came to Listowel to work in McGuire’s Pharmacy.

He settled in well to life in Listowel. He was a man of simple pleasures. He loved classical music, tennis, a small wager on a Saturday and the company of his friends over a pint in O’Connor’s. His friend Gerard Leahy wrote in his obituary that he thought he never progressed beyond McKenna’s Corner in either direction during his 17 years in town.

Mike helped to revive the tennis club in the 1980s and he was its chairman for two memorable years. On one of those years it was decided to have a fancy dress theme for the annual social. Mike came dressed as Hitler and gave his chairman’s address entirely in German.

Mike is buried in his native Castledermot. He is fondly remembered by his Listowel friends.

(Source; Gerard Leahy in  North Kerry Chronicle June 1966)


A Welcome Email

Hello Mary,

                      My name is John Buckley originally from Tanavalla but now exiled in Roscrea Co. Tipperary.

I was reading your article on ” A Police Tradition “. Bill Flaherty was a neighbour of mine and i have great memories of Bill and his sister Nora when i was a child. Bill’s cousin Mick Dwyer from Banemore  was a Guard in Moneygall Co. Offaly and still lives in the village. A long tradition of policemen. I have attached a photo of Bill, Nora is in front in black, i have no idea who the other two ladies are. Bill died on the 17th June 1962 . The Flaherty’s were related to the Lynch’s and the Walsh’s in the Square.

I love reading your blog keeps me in touch with home.

Dave O’Sullivan has enhanced the photo for us so someone might recognise the lady on the right and the lady in the background . They are probably neighbours from Tanavalla.


Tourism in Kerry in 2019

This is Catherine Moylan, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week.

Kerry for the Holidays!

“The ‘Kingdom’ tag apparently dates back to 65AD, when the O’Connor clan took control, but it’s since taken on a life of its own. Kerry is a country within a county, somewhere that blurs the lines between various visions of Ireland, that knocks you off guard and keeps you that way. It’s a feeling, as much as a place.

I like that Kerry doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t rest on those tourism laurels. It values vibrant small businesses. Its food scenes are improving – particularly in Dingle and Kenmare. Its ‘Reeks District’ was re-branded just last year, and already Rough Guides has named it one of the best places in the world to visit. Kerry is rooted in the past, looking to the future, and your favourite home holiday for 2019.”

The photo and text are from the writers, Pól ÓConghaile and Nicola Brady, of a great article in Saturday last’s Irish Independent.


A Lidl Bit of a Joke

My niece spotted this in Lidl Cabra.

Listowel supplement to Kerryman 1994, fundraising for the day centre and some tennis children of the eighties

The Square, Listowel on a quiet Sunday morning in January 2019


From the Magazine of the Kerry Historical Society


The Kerryman 1994


Blessing and Opening of St. Vincent de Paul Day Centre

Dave O’Sullivan researched the back story for us. The centre was opened on September 8 1975. Before it could open though there had to be some fund raising. People came up with a few novel ideas.

It sounds like a great show.

I wonder did the diaspora help out?


Listowel Juvenile Tennis Players

late 1980s

Photo: Danny Gordon


Oh dear!

This is a very sad picture of Irish nurses in Australia supporting their Irish colleagues in their fight for better work conditions. With temperatures in the forties these days I’m sure many of them would long for a return to more temperate climes.

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