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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: Listowel Tidy Towns Page 1 of 11

More Sustainable Fashion

Listowel Town Square

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Listowel Tidy Towns’ Sustainable Fashion Event 2022

This event encourages men and women to upcycle and reuse old clothes and accessories.

Unfortunately the men were much more reluctant than the ladies to enter the competition even though a few I saw on the course were sporting clothes that had seen better days

The winner of the competition was a veteran of these competitions and dressed up especially for the occasion.

The winner was Sean Donoghue and the reason he is hugging the judge is because he is well known to her from dressing up competitions.

Any men reading this who may be thinking of coming to the Races on Saturday 2023, start sorting out a vintage outfit. There is a prize of €300 for the taking and there are fabulous goody bags sponsored by local shops, for the finalists. If this year is anything to go by, to enter is to be a finalist.

This snappy dresser was the runner up.

These are all the finalists.

If there was a prize for the most stylish young lady, Maire Enright would have got my vote. This young lady told me she loves to buy clothes in the second hand shop, New2You. It was there she got her dress and her gorgeous fascinator. If she keeps up this good practice, and I think she will, she’ll be winning that 300 euros yet.

When you’re putting together your vintage outfit the shoes and accessories are all part of the look.

Lady’s fan repurposed from a Barbie doll’s dress.

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Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing

It’s a generational thing.

Paud Fitzmaurice was the second in three generations of the Fitzmaurice family to hold the position of Race company accountant.

He followed in the footsteps of his late father David. His son, David succeeded him.

This generation’s David, (aka Classy) pictured at Listowel Races 2022, on the seat that commemorates his late father.

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A Poem for the Season

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Great News from my friends in the Save our Cinema campaign

Here is the latest update;

First the bad news. KCC rejected our submission under the Town & Village Renewal Scheme 2022 to fund a new cinema, military museum and associated community cafe in Listowel. It was not a total surprise even though a lot of work was put into the 25 page proposal including a face-to-face meeting with the Municipal District Officer in Listowel and multiple conversations with the helpful admin people in the Community Department in Tralee. The rejection came in the form of a cursory letter at the end of July.

The Good News. While the above was ongoing a very generous benefactor got in touch and to make a long story short they have pledged €200k (yes, €200 000) with the option of a further €200k subject to some conditions for a new cinema auditorium in the town.

This clearly is huge news and changes everything and it has been difficult to contain our excitement during the fabulous summer we’ve just had. The starting point is that any new cinema has to equal or ideally surpass what one gets a home. So no mouldy carpets, seats not much better that one gets on a budget airline, dank toilets and indifferent customer service. Instead the bar has been set to compare with the 3 screen, 112 seat Electric Cinema in the old television building at White City in London with its comfy and luxurious armchairs (pictured below).

Friends of Listowel Cinema are currently looking at two options on the back of this amazing proposition. One, an existing building in the town and secondly a green field site outside of Listowel. Needless to say both options will have to go through the full planning process and so the timeframe is lengthy unfortunately.

We promise to keep you updated though where appropriate. In the meantime heartfelt thanks to everyone on here for their continued support and on the other social media accounts and in person. We will continue to share exciting movie and cinema news with you every week and in particular now that we are in late autumn after the Races and facing into an uncertain winter.

This Fall also marks the first time in 35 years that the big screen will not light up in Listowel and the end of 25 years of Kieran’s beloved film club. Last but not least the €2 920 that was raised on the GoFundMe campaign will be gifted to the 3 named charities in the coming weeks. The delay is simply because the Classic Movieplex is still for sale on the auctioneers web site and no ‘Sale Agreed’ has yet appeared on the building despite being told to the contrary in early June.

Onwards and upwards.

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Football, Racing and Playwriting

Statue of Bryan MacMahon at Kerry Writers’ Museum

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Master at Work

Martin Chute is, sign by sign, leaving his mark on Listowel. His work is an invaluable asset to our heritage town. I snapped him painting Finesse Bridalwear sign. Note he is writing in the traditional way with maul stick and brush.

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Sam Maguire in Town

There was a huge crowd in town to see the cup. I was amused to see the event described as a homecoming.

I wasn’t in The Square. I took the following photos on Upper Church Street.

Three lovely Hannon ladies

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Tom Coffey R.I.P. Playwright and Teacher

A lady was one day Googling her ancestors and she came upon the above headline in Listowel Connection

Tom, pictured at the back right between Mick Relihan and Pat Mc Elligott is remembered. I asked Marie Shaw if she remembered him and this is what she wrote:

“I can’t claim to know him personally Mary, I didn’t even remember his first name until you mentioned it, but I did take a commercial course with him at the Tech. What I remember vividly is his “Movie Star” good looks. There wasn’t a teenager in the town of Listowel at the time who wasn’t madly in love with him. Makes me smile just thinking of him. He was probably teaching at the Tech for two years. I left Ireland in 1958 and I would guess that he was in Listowel in 1956 and 1957.”


(I hope his family Google him and find out this forgotten corner of Tom’s life)

The lady who was doing the Googling was Tom’s granddaughter and she wrote

Hi there,

I found your posts about Tom Coffey—he was my grandfather. (I’m his son, Brian’s daughter.) I found the photo and sent it to my dad and grandmother. Thank you so much for posting about him; we all miss him very much, and it’s lovely to read about the other lives he touched. (I saw you hoped his family found the article, so I wanted to mention that, yes, we did.)

Thanks again,

Katie Coffey

The backstory: Junior Griffin gave me the photo and he told me that Mr. Coffey taught him Irish in the Tech. now Coláiste na Ríochta. Here is what Junior wrote in 2014

Having a look at this week’s Kerryman  I see an obituary on page 20 for the late Tom Coffey, very sorry to read about his recent death. You will see him in the back row of your recent photo.

They write about his time In Kerry but no mention of the time he spent here in Listowel. Now I started work in McKenna’s in Sept. 1953 and as  time went by struck up a friendship with 2 work colleagues, Willie Barrett and Pat Somers. Indeed, Pat who lived in Billerough, just before the Six Crosses, used to call for me in the morning and give me a bar up on his bicycle, a fine strong lad he was.

It must have been the following year that we decided to do an Irish evening class in the old tech and our teacher was none other than Tom Coffey. Irish dancing was another one of his subjects and those ladies in the front of your photo were also involved.

The Kerryman obituary mentions his first play called Luiochan, Irish for Ambush, and it seems it won an Oireachtas award.

In actual fact, it was a group of us that put on that play first. We did it in Moyvane, Ballybunion and Listowel, hence our presence in that photo. He decided to enter it for the Limerick Drama festival and we were highly commended by the judge, who happened to be a brother of Gay Byrne but we did not receive a prize due to the fact that we were the only Irish play taking part that year and we were not in competition with anyone. 

I honestly believe he was here in Listowel for 2 years, maybe the school terms of 1954 and 55. The obituary says he was in Dingle in 1955 so, if correct that could be starting the school term of ’55.

I did learn a good bit of Irish dancing from him but I most certainly did learn that I had 2 left feet.

He was a lovely man, I never met him after he left Listowel.

May he Rest in Peace

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More Sustainable Fashion

This great event on the Saturday of Race Week was a first for Listowel Tidy Towns and is greatly admired by other festivals.

Wardrobes and attics are raided and charity and vintage shops scoured in an effort to win the coveted title of best dressed lady in sustainable wear.

The competition was judged by international model, Sydney Sargent and Elaine Doyle of An Taisce. It’s great to see so many local people supporting this great initiative

Some of the Tidy Town Ladies who organised the event

I have known Anne Leneghan since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She is a great supporter of Listowel Races. Her outfit started life as a maxi dress and coat. Her bag she sourced in the charity shop and the hat was given to her as a present, all old and pre loved.

Lovely local lady, Nell Reidy, like myself, loves Listowel Vincent de Paul shop. She sourced her complete ensemble there over the years.

Maria Stack comes from a family who are both crafty, talented and dedicated to style, Maria always makes great effort in support of this event. Her beautiful tweed skirt she adapted from an A line one. It is one of many beautiful classic pieces she inherited from her aunt. Her coat was her mother’s but she had to reduce it a few sizes. She made her hat herself from material she bought from a man who was going out of the millinery business. Maria told us that she spent her spare time during Covid working on her sewing, crafting and hat making. It helped her de stress from her hectic job as a nurse in an acute respiratory ward.

Another local finalist was Deirdre Kissane. She found her classic red and black ensemble in her wardrobe. Deirdre looks after her clothes and buys pieces that will last.

When your mother is the very stylish Marian Relihan, then all you have to do to look this good is raid her wardrobe.

(more tomorrow)

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Just a Thought

If you missed me on Radio Kerry last week, and you would like to hear my reflections, here is the link

Just a Thought

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Awards and Accolades

in Lullymore Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú

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Listowel Clean Sweep

Our fellow Kerrymen in the Kerrymen’s Association in Dublin held a great award night recently to honour the recipients of their Laochra Chiarraí awards. These presentations had been held over due to Covid.

My photos of the Tidy Towns window show Dr. Patricia Sheahan who was named Kerry Person of the Year and Listowel Tidy Towns who got the Community Group Award. Well deserved recognition for all of these people.

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A Catholic Glossary

People of my vintage will be familiar with these terms. Non Catholics and even younger Catholics will scratch their heads.

The list was published in the paper to accompany a review of Mary Kenny’s new book.

I hope you can enlarge it to read it.

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A lovely restoration job

This makeover on William Street is superbly suitable for a Heritage Town. Everyone involved, take a well deserved bow!

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Walk for the Hospice

The walk in Camp in aid of the hospice and in honour of the late Betty McGrath was held in glorious sunshine. I found these photos on Facebook.

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Out with the old; in with the new

Our lovely new shiny parking meters are installed. They accept coins and cards.

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A Fact

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

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John Pierse R.I.P.

By the Feale in August 2022

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+ John Pierse R.I.P.+

John Pierse’s Tidy Town colleagues changed their window display as a tribute to one of their stalwarts, John Pierse.

John’s nephew, Roibeard Pierse, captured the essence of John when he said that John was a man who would do the hard work and step away when the photograph was being taken. That was the John I knew. For a man who was often seen with a camera and who appreciated the importance of a photograph to document a historic moment, he was himself very camera shy.

However when I looked for photographs to illustrate my small tribute I found that I had quite a few, mainly of John in the company of like minded people.

I took this photo of John with his friend and collaborator, John Lynch on the first occasion I saw Bliain dár Saol, an invaluable documentary of life in Listowel in 1972.

The importance of this film was recognised again lately when it was shown on three days during Heritage Week 2022. The film, beautifully scripted and narrated by Eamon Keane, records The Fleadh with which John Pierse will be forever associated , the Wren and other traditions whose memory is still alive today.

With friends, Pat and Leisha Given at a book launch

John Pierse was a scholar who loved learning. This class phot0 of a group of Listowel people at a conferring in UCC on the completion of an adult outreach diploma has both Mairead and John in it. John was a life long learner. He was generous in sharing the fruits of his learning and I am one of many who has learned much from him.

With Kay and Arthur Caball

Kay Caball worked with John on many of his history projects. There was a deep mutual respect and friendship between these two avid historians.

Eileem Worts R.I.P. , John Pierse R.I.P., Joan Byrne, Breda McGrath and Mary Hanlon

One of the projects close to John’s heart, a labour of love, was his book, Teampall Bán. He has done the town an invaluable service in trawling through documents and records to put together this thorough account of the Famine in the Listowel area. In an act typical of the man, he donated all the profits from the book to Listowel Tidy Towns’.

This book will stand as John’s legacy to future generations.

With Finbar Mawe

John had a huge library of history books and maps. He was a great supporter of local authors. Here he is at the launch of Vincent Carmody’s book adding another to his collection.

John loved the company of local people who shared his love of the town and its history. With him here are Kieran Moloney, Paddy Keane and Michael Guerin.

With John in this photo taken at an event during the military weekend are Kathy Walshe and Dr. Declan Downey.

These two photos I took after an event in the hospital chapel, forever a reminder of Famine times in Listowel and North Kerry.

This is the last photo I took of John Pierse. We were in a brief respite in pandemic restrictions and we were both out early in the morning to see how Listowel was faring in these extraordinary times. John was his usual chatty self. While suffering under the privations of enforced isolation, John was putting his time to good use with his books.

In his 86 years in this life, John lived a fulfilled life. He packed more into one lifetime than anyone I know. He is part of Listowel’s rich history now. He will be greatly missed by his beloved gentle Mairead and by all his family.

I am glad I got to know him.

“Lives of great men remind us

We too can make our lives sublime

And departing, leave behind us

Footprints in the sands of time.”

Go gcloise tú ceol na naingeal go síoraí, a John.

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Going to the Creamery

This photograph which was shared originally to Rockchapel Memories by Charles MacCarthy shows the scene at the creamery in Rowles, Meelin sometime in the 20th century.

That scene, or versions of it, was repeated in villages and rural areas all over the country when men made the daily trip to the local creamery. Judging by the size of the milk churns, these men were not rich but happy farmers making a living on small holdings in a remote part of North Cork.

The ritual of the morning at the creamery involved the exchange of news and gossip. Men looked forward to what was often their only social interaction in the day. It took a few hours to get to the creamery and back but in those days people weren’t in a hurry.

This photograph was also shared on line. Sorry I cant remember by whom. Was it you, Brigid O’Brien?

It is a later time when tractors and the odd car had replaced the horse or donkey and cart. The ritual was the same though and chat was still a big part of going to the creamery.

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Tina Kinsella was entertaining her sister in Lynch’s Coffee Shop. Bernie was on holiday from Wexford.

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Writers’ Week Opening Night 2022

Simple Snaps by Sharon

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Celebrating 50 years of Kerry in Kerry

Kerry chief executive, Edmond Scanlon with Minister Norma Foley at the 50 year celebration.

It’s 50 years since the “12 Apostles” led by Denis Brosnan came to Listowel to set up a dairy enterprise.

From that little acorn a mighty oak has surely grown.

Denis Brosnan with Catherine Moylan at the celebrations.

Some local people representing local supporters were also invited to the do.

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Meanwhile in the U.K. More Celebrations

While we were going to the races or to plays, book launches or lectures on the June bank holiday weekend 2022, our friends and relatives across the pond were in party mode.

Everyone was baking buns for the street party. You’ve heard them called queen cakes. These are queen- to- be cakes, I suppose.

Artist: Eleanor Tomlinson’

The hit image of the celebration was the queen sloping off home hand in hand with Paddington after their marmalade tea party.

Wait ’til I get you home.

There is always one! In a buttoned up family where rules of behaviour are tight and restrictive, it was lovely to see the naughty behaviour of Prince Louis “showing them up” on their big day.

In case we were in any doubt, his mother is a saint.

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Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

Éamon and Nora ÓMurchú
Writers’ Week volunteers
Linda Galvin greeted the guests with some jazz

Joan and Rose couldn’t resist the pull of the music and they broke into a little impromptu jive.

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+Eileen Worts R.I.P.+

Eileen passed away peacefully on June 9 2022. She slipped away from us quietly but Eileen had made her mark in life and she leaves many memories. She will not be forgotten.

This is my favourite photo of Eileen. She is in Halo with her dear daughter, Elaine.

Eileen was a dedicated Listowel woman but above all else, her family came first,

Here she is having a chat with her brother, Charlie.

Eileen was always ready to stop and chat. It was a joy to meet her on her stroll around town.

I snapped her having a chat with Martin Chute as he took time out from sign writing.

We all know Eileen as a dedicated member of Listowel Tidy Town Committee. But do you know that Eileen was volunteering to look after Listowel even before Tidy Towns?

This picture is from a an organisation that predated Tidy Towns. It was called TABLE…Towards a Better Listowel Everyday. Eileen is helping Ned O’Sullivan to plant a tree in Feale Drive in 1994.

One of Eileen’s proudest moments was Listowel winning the overall prize for Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2018.

In 2019 Eileen and her fellow Tidy Towners welcomed President Michael D. Higgins to Listowel.

In 2016, when Listowel was Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town, Eileen was there at the unveiling of the lovely commemorative seat.

Eileen was not just there for the glory days. Here she is helping out with the annual recycling event at Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing.

Despite failing health, Eileen Worts rolled up her sleeves and joined her friends, Breda and Jackie to do some of the hard work.

May the sod rest lightly on her gentle soul.

I hope this little poem is a small comfort to Elaine and those who loved Eileen in life.

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