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 Page 1 of 6

Ballinagare, St. Patrick’s Day, The Square in 2005 and some Memories and another Covid Cartoon

Ballinagare near Ballyduff in May 2020

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Football Memories from 1959

The late Michael Sheehy grew up in Main Street, one of a family of very talented brothers. He sent us this a few years before he died. I’m sharing it again now, especially for the cocooners.

I remember the town league as if it was yesterday. What great games between the different streets!

I remember playing with The Ashes around 1960 and the Ashes winning. I still have the medal but it says 1957 which would have made me 12.

We had guys like the McMahons, Toddy Enright, Junior & Bert Griffin, Frank Murray etc.  What great times they were just to have the bragging rights for a year.   Now as I think of the places that made up the “Ashes” I doubt if you could field a team. How sad it is. Now as I think in the Small Square the only person to live there over the last many years was Mrs. Scully.r.i.p. Everyone else closed their business and lives somewhere else.


An Old St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Don’t know the year. If you recognise yourself let me know.


Troubled times


The Square 2005


Old Railway Bridge on Ballybunion Road in May 2020


Mike O’Donnell at his Most Incisive

Mike captioned this “Boris paints coffins blue in support of healthcare workers” . The tide has turned against the British government which is now presiding over Europe’s most catastrophic Covid 19 pandemic tragedy.


Darkness into Light 2020

The usual big walk through darkened towns did not go ahead this year but many still found a way of “walking” into the light.


Thunderstorm in Lyreacrompane

Story and pictures from Joe Harrington on Facebook.

Saturday May 10 2020 was the hottest day so far this year.

Joe Harrington recorded record high temperatures at his glasshouse in Lyre.

Then this happened.

Lightening hit the power pole in The Glen  near the old schoolhouse.

Within the hour help was at hand.  ESB Networks removed the damaged pole and erected a new one.

Power was restored to this little piece of Heaven in The Kingdom.

Asdee, West Clare Railway and Memories of a Book Launch

Lower Church Street Listowel in January 2020


Asdee from the air

I found this photo on the lovely Asdee website

Asdee Village 


On This Day

Today is January 27. On this very day in 1885 Charles Stewart Parnell turned the first sod for the West Clare Railway.

You may talk of Columbus’s sailing

Across the Atlantical sea

But he never tried to go railing

From Ennis as far as Kilkee.

The train ran from Kilkee to Moyasta and from there the traveller could go  west to Kilrush.It was the last operating narrow gauge passenger railway in the country . It closed in1961.

The train was notoriously unreliable. Percy French who wrote the famous satire about the line sued The West Clare Railway for loss of earning because he arrived  four and a half hours late for an engagement in Kilkee on August 10 1896. He won £10 plus costs.

The Railway appealed the case and lost. French arrived one hour late for the appeal and he explained to the judge that he came on the West Clare Railway.  In the course of his submission in the case French famously said

“If you want to go to Kilkee

You must go there by sea.”

At the same court on the day of French’s appeal Mary Anne Butler from Limerick sued the railway alleging that she had been attacked by a malevolent donkey on the platform at Ennis.

If you’re not familiar with the Percy French song here are a few verses.

Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right ?

Do ye think that you can get the fire to light ?

Oh, an hour you’ll require

For the turf it might be drier

Well it might now, Michael, so it might

Are you right there, Michael, are ye right ?

Do you think that we’ll be there before it’s light ?”

It all depends on whether

The old engine holds together

And it might now, Michael, so it might, so it might

And it might, now, Michael, so it might

( information from On This Day Vol. 2 by Myles Dungan)


Generosity in Lyre

Garda Sgt Jim Foley Tralee, a trustee of The Irish Pilgrimage Trust accepts a cheque for €1,910 proceeds of the hampers raffle at Christmas. Hampers sponsored by Lyreacrompane Community Development. €955 raised through your generosity and matched by Lyreacrompane Community Development.

Photo and caption from Lyreacrompane Community Development on Facebook


Memories of  great Night

On October 19th 2019 we launched A Minute of Your Time in St. John’s Listowel. Lots of friends came and we had a mighty night. Breda Ferris took the photos.

Helen Bambury and her husband, Aidan

Alice Moylan and my nephew, William Ahern

Barbara Walshe

Betty and Maria Stack

Billy Keane

My son, Bobby and his wife, Carine

Robert Beasley

Brenda Enright

Bridie O’Rourke

Canon Declan O’Connor

Caroline Reynolds

Catherine Moylan


Revival 2020 Planning Meeting

I spotted Aiden and Gerry in Thew Horseshoe last week planning another super music festival.

Piseoga, a Rainbow and the Opening of Moyvane Church in 1956 and A minute of your Time Launch nears

Listowel Castle, October 2019


More Folklore from the Dúchas collection

More Piseóga from Lyreacrompane in 1936

27. It is said that you should not throw away feet-water at night.

28. It is said that you should never sweep the dust of the floor out the door.

29. If you see a sod falling out of the fire it is said that someone will come into the house soon after.

30. If a sod falls out of the fire and sparks hop out of it, it is said that money will come into that house.

31. If you see two cocks fighting it is said that you will have strangers. (to visit)

32. If you see two looking into a mirror together it is said the two will fight.

33. If anyone goes to the well after 12 o’clock on Little Christmas night (January 6)it is said that that person will be dead before the next morning.

34. If you get meat you should never return it.

35. You should never kill a pig on a Monday for it is said that the meat will get bad.

36. Some people say that if you throw a cake of bread against the door on New Year’s Eve, it is supposed to keep the hunger away for that year.

37. Some people bless the cattle on May eve, expecting that they would not die during the year.

38. If you put your dress on wrong in the morning it is supposed that you will have good luck for the day.

39. If a widow’s curse will fall on you it will stay on you.

40. If you steal anything out of a forge it is said you will never have a day’s luck.

41. If you put on your right shoe first in the morning it is said that that you will have good luck for that day.

42. If a spider hops on your shoes or on your clothes it is supposed that you will get new shoes.

43. If you break a cup on Monday it is said to bring bad luck.

44. If a ring falls from a person who is getting married it is said that that person will not have a day’s luck during life.

45. If you go on a journey you should if possible go into a church before you perform it.

46. If you met a greyhound at night it is said that he is a devil. (A person was ill one night and they sent for the priest. When the priest was coming he saw a greyhound singing inside a fence and it was said that that was a devil singing Cailín Deas Crúidh na mbó and that song was never sung again.)

47. If you give away a black cat it is said that you give away all your luck.

48. If a spoon falls from a table it is supposed that a lady will come in.

49. If a knife falls from a table it is supposed that a gentleman will come in.

50. You should never refuse good money for a horse. (A few weeks ago a man refused thirty pounds for a horse and a few days after, the horse fell and broke her leg and the owner of her shot her.


A Rainbow over a Shed

Could there be a pot a gold behind the cowshed?


Opening of Moyvane Church in August 1956


Still Promoting A Minute of Your Time

Yesterday I gave a few sneak peeks to local people. The reaction was invariably good from the hairdressers, the pharmacy, the theatre and the bookshop.

Danny and Yvanna

Brenda of Woulfe’s Bookshop liked what she saw.

Máire Logue of St. John’s is enjoying her promotional copy.

Oonagh thought it was one of the nicest books she has seen launched in Listowel in a long time.

Listen out for me today Oct. 17 2019 talking to Deirdre Walsh on Radio Kerry.

Below is the link to the piece I did with Mary Fagan on Horizons.

Dromcollogher Fire Tragedy, Piseóga and St Mary’s Listowel

In Listowel Town Square in October 2019


Remembering a Tragedy 

This story was one I revisited in the book commemorating 100 years of The Irish Examiner.

This is the story as it appeared in the paper in 1926. As I was growing up it was something that was well remembered in folk memory in my part of the country and was spoken of in hushed tones as the greatest tragedy that had happened for a long time.

I wrote about this horror before and below is the link to the story

Dromcollogher Cinema Fire


Piseóga from Lyreacrompane in  the Dúchas collection

The Schools’ Folklore Collection is a great anthology of old wisdom and superstitions collected by Irish schoolchildren in the 1930s from their elders.

The children of Lyreacrompane set to collecting old piseoga and superstitions. They were very diligent and they collected a huge number of these. Here are the first few. I hope you love the local idiom and colloquialisms of the children e.g. no. 21


1/5/36 Fuaireas iad so leanas ó Bhorca Ni Dhiolaín, cailín sgoile ais Chlocán-Leiscirt.

1. If you see one magpie in the morning it means to you that you will have bad luck for that day.

2. If you see two magpies it means that you will have good luck for that day.

3. If you see three, it means that you will hear of a marriage during that day.

4. If you see four it means that there is a wake to be held that day.

5. If you see five it means that you will get silver from some friend or find silver lost.

6. If you see six it means that you will get gold lost.

7. If you see seven it means that you will hear a secret that was never told before.

8. If you break a mirror in a house it means that there will be bad luck in that house for seven years.

9. If you spill salt on a table it means bad luck.

10. If you meet a brown haired woman in the morning, it is as well for you to turn home for you will not do your journey that day.

11. If you walk under a ladder it means bad luck.

12. If you open an umbrella in a house it means bad luck.

13. If you find a horse shoe lost on the road you should spit on it and throw it away again and it is supposed to bring you good luck.

14. If you find a rack (a hair comb) or a half-penny lost on the road you should take it and keep it for it is supposed to bring you good luck.

15. If you shake a crane(For hanging pots over an open fire)on a Sunday it is supposed to bring bad luck.

16. If you burn a pack of cards it is supposed to bring bad luck.

17. It is said that you should never give away milk without putting a pinch of salt in it.

18. It is said that if there are three persons with the same Christian name in one house one of them is bound to die.

19. If you meet a hare crossing the road it is a sign of bad luck.

20. It is said that if you cut your nails on a Sunday it is as bad as to eat meat on a Friday.

21. You should never carry a “sup” of milk in a bucket to a well for it is said you will be in want of it after.

22. If you hear a cock crowing at night it is the sign of a death.

23. If you hear dogs crying that is the sign of a death.

24. It is said that you should never interfere with a fort.

25. If you hear a bell in your ear it is the sign of a death.

26. If you see a star falling it is the sign of a soul going to heaven


The Main Altar in St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Listowel has some beautiful mosaics and stained glass.


Don’t Forget

Saturday next,  October 19 2019, in St. John’s in The Square at 7.30 I will be launching my new book. Elaine Kinsella of Radio Kerry is the special guest and there will be music and readings. 

John B. Keane, a Wall and the Rte Newsroom in 1968 and a letter from Australia

Photo: Ita Hannon


Sticks and Stones

John B. Keane in The Limerick Leader

MOST of our English teachers warned us at one time or another of the folly arising from the use of a big word where a small one would do just as well, and a few weeks ago we dealt in-depth, with this aspect of communications as indeed we do and have done with all manner of subjects.

But be this as it may, there was nothing so deflating to an ignoramus or bostoon or a common thug as a barrage of well-timed, well-spaced, multi-syllabic tongue-twisters.

Backward and suspicious folk, unversed in the subtleties and sonorousness of sublime expression, have a healthy respect for the man who has words at will and will give him a wide berth for fear of invoking his wrath.

In fact, there are many sensible country people who would much prefer a lick of a naked fist.

The worst a belt of this nature can do is give you a black eye or a broken jaw, either of which can be cured easily and forgotten about altogether in the course of time.

Not so with a nicely mounted cluster of sharp, scintillating words.

These can leave scars and sores that will not heal for a genesis of generations.


How many will disagree that an absurd soubriquet has twice the punishing powers of a comprehensive physical beating?

The old Gaelic chieftains had a greater fear of satire and ridicule than of sworn enemies out for a man’s blood.

At least you could build castles against your enemies buy against the invective of a disgruntled bard. There was no defence whatsoever, and even if you cut off his head before he got started one of his brotherhood was sure to lambast you with a lacerating and lineage-defiling displode which was sure to be remembered unto the third and even the fourth generation.

Anything was preferable to the poet’s curse or the wit’s tag, and if ’twas the last fork of mate in the house itself, it was wiser to part with it rather than risk the wrath of a half-starving poetaster.

Worse still, of course, was to be fettered by a mouthful of words which the benighted victim would have no hope of understanding.

Bad as he is, than the devil one does not know, and what an ordeal to have to through the world like a dog with a canister tie to its tail.

There are others, of course, notably schoolboys, who have no fear whatsoever of the spoken word when delivered by a disgruntled teacher.

The longer the tirade, the less likelihood of physical punishment.

The maxim here was:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words will never hurt me.”


RTE Newsroom 1968

Photo from Rte Archives


They’re Building a Wall

Where?  Beside Áras an Phiarsaigh, Listowel

Why? I have no idea


Lyreacrompane 1970

Photo from Facebook


Any Henrys or Brosnihans out there?

My name is Jan Allen and I live in Australia. I have been researching my ancestory. Your website has interested me as I know I have ancestors in your area. 

My great-grandmother, Mary Henry, was born in Listowel in 1855 and I know that her parents’ names were Michael Henry and Mary Brosnihan. I have found her baptismal date but have not been able to find her parents’ marriage date or their birth dates. Ballygologue was referenced in her baptismal record. 

I have been scanning through all the records I have access to but there seems to be some missing records – I have not been able to find any information about the Brosnihans or the Henrys. I am assuming that they lived in the County of Listowel as Mary was born there. 

In 2010 my husband and I travelled through the Republic of Ireland but at that time, I had not done any research into my ancestry. Since my mother passed away in 2018, I have become very interested in her family history.  The other side of her family (Foley) were born in Edenderry, Ireland.

You have indicated that you are interested in connecting with people related to the area, although my connection may be quite remote. My great grandparents were both born in Ireland, travelling to Australia, then marrying in Cooktown, Queensland. 

Yours faithfully,

Jan Allen (formerly Matthews)

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