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: Lyreacrompane 1956

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.

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.

Lyreacrompane 1956 and some Listowel people in Dec 2014

Listowel People at the Santa Parade on Sunday Dec 7 2014


Lyreacrompane, 1956

(photo: Cathy Dunne)


Success for a descendant of the Listowel Diaspora

  • Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, Time, New Scientist, The Monthly, and other publications. Her books, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures and The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, are published by Viking Penguin. Before becoming a reporter, she received a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cambridge University and a B.A. (Hons) in English and Linguistics from Melbourne University. She was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and has lived in England, Iowa, and Brooklyn, New York ( She is currently a contributing editor for Buzzfeed News.


    Out and About with my Camera

    Roly Chute and John Lynch

    Fred Chute at his travelling workshop

    Ruth O’Quigley at Knitwits Christmas lunch

    Mary Sobieralski with Abraham Nur and Namir Karim at Scribes

    Patricia Borley with the cake she made for the Knitwits Christmas party


    Operation Education

    One great day during Listowel Writers’ Week 2014

    Operation Education


    Don’t forget the Christmas Craft Fair at The Seanchaí on Sunday

     from 11 to 5.00.    Admission free

An Post Rás

Colorful display at Lawlees Upper William Street.


This is it, the final few photos of The Rás

 The schoolboys are lined up to watch An Rás leave town.

The peleton rides out of Listowel.

2 serving Gardaí chat to a retired colleague.

A few from Day 1

 Michael Salmon and Denis O’Mahoney

English visitors who love Listowel, Siobhán and Mark Hewitt

 Mary Hanlon and grandchildren

 Wheels pumped in readiness for the day ahead.

The team car is loaded up.

Tony and Denise came out for a look.

The Square is empty and the clean up begins.

The band on its way home.


Horse chestnut tree in bloom by the entrance to the Gaelscoil.


Arbour Hill 1924 Dev and Austim Stack


Ger Greaney got this marvellous photo of the opening of Lyreacrompane church in 1956. Its so clear. People will definitely identify people. Are you in the picture?


Jer shot this lovely video of Noel OGrady on Opening Night Writers’ Week 2013

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