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: Macroom

Molly, Macroom, Hidden Treasure and Listowel Drama Group

Molly at Home

I haven’t given an update on Molly for a while. Here she is in her happy place with her Christmas toy. She has been to the groomers since and is looking even more handsome these days.


I was in Macroom, Co Cork

Last week I met a friend in Macroom for lunch. We ate in Granville’s and it was lovely, good food, friendly staff and cozy dining room.

I parked in the square just opposite this well named premises. It is truly a golden treasure, a throwback to the days of my childhood.

Once upon a time many shops had bars like these fitted outside their windows. This was in the days when fairs were held on the streets and shopkeepers needed to protect their very expensive plate glass. It’s lovely to see this one still in place.

Further down the street in this blue and yellow shop there was another of these fair day protectors. This one was removable but seems to be being left up permanently here.

Back to Golden’s and it’s old advertising hoardings… This one exhorts us to smoke a brand of cigarettes no longer available.

This place was certainly a general store, a virtual cornucopia judging by the goods displayed in the windows.

Among the mirrors and jugs was a jewish menorah and some various christian imagery.

It was not clear to me if these items were for sale or merely for decoration.

I was fascinated to see an old fashioned ring board and a skipping rope.

The sign inviting musicians to the monthly sessions had been updated since I was last here.

The Guinness toucan was on the wall and in the window was the old Guinness advertising slogan; Guinness is Good for You.  Are we allowed to make unsubstantiated claims like that nowadays?

Is that cctv I see beside the golden finial? The plasterwork depicts the oak leaves and acorns below some sheaves of corn, a rich harvest image for a lovely lovely old bar.


From the Schools’ Folklore Collection

A Hidden Treasure

There was a very old woman who lived in a small little house close to the village of Newtownsandes. She seemed to be very poor and the village people used to give her food. One day the priest said to her, “You seem to be always looking for charity”, and the old woman said, “Sure what else could I do. I haven’t a pig, a goat, or a man”. In a short time after, the old woman grew sick and was ordered to hospital. The neighbours went to her little house. As the ambulance came they were preparing her for the journey, and on no account would she allow them to take off a flannel skirt. So when she got to the hospital the nuns ordered the skirt to be removed, but the old lady screamed aloud and thought to hold on to the skirt. However they succeeded in removing the skirt. The nuns got suspicious and stood by after giving orders to two wardswomen to get a scissors and open up the skirt. To their surprise, there were nineteen sovereigns sewed in a tuck to the skirt. She lived for one week after, and during that time the other patients in the ward could not sleep as the old woman was all the time shouting for the flannel skirt.

Collector- Pat Stack- Informant- Nurse Stack- Age 62 Address, Newtownsandes, Co. Kerry


Listowel Drama Group

The curtain has come down for the last time on A Daughter from over the Water. This 2020 production by Listowel Drama Group entertained audiences  in the dreary evenings of early March 2020….great cast and excellent set, as usual.

Cast of Listowel Drama Groups production of A Daughter from over the Water

Macroom, Kennellys and Ard Chúram

On the Ring of Kerry

If you are on the Ring this is a lovely stop with a picnic area and a woodland walk.



If you travel the road from Listowel to Cork via Tralee and Killarney, Macroom is well worth a stop. It is a town steeped in history.

Did you learn Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire in school? It is one of the most beautiful poems in the Irish language. In it, the poet, Eibhlín Dubh ní Chonaill laments her lost love, Art O Laoghaire. Eibhlín defied her parents to marry the handsome dashing Art.

Her first indication that he was dead came when his horse came home without him. Art was shot by an English officer at Carraig an Ime outside Macroom for refusing to sell him his fine horse for £5.

Here listen to Eibhlín describing how she fell in love with Art the first time she saw him on market day in Macroom

Mo ghrá go daingean thú

Lá dá bhfaca thú ag ceann tí an mhargaidh

Thug mo shúil aire dhuit

Thug mo chroí taitneamh duit

D’éalaíos om’ athair leat……

The above plaque has been erected at ceann tí an mhargaidh  (the head of the market house) to commemorate this Romeo and Juliet style meeting. Like the Shakespearean lovers their love was doomed from the start and ended in tragedy.

This is a bit of a mystery. It is in the same corner of the market square in Macroom but appears to belong in Limerick.

This old weigh bridge is still in place near the town hall. I presume it is no longer used.

This is the fine market house which now is home to the Urban District Council. It is beautifully kept and, even though blowing it out of there would greatly help the flow of traffic, I hope they never do.

Across the road is another ‘relic of auld decency’ Macroom Castle.

Definitely not Limerick


Ard Chúram

This great charity is still looking for volunteer cyclists to do the Ring of Kerry Cycle. Their new dementia day care unit is progressing rapidly and people have been very generous but much more is needed.

Nora Owen, whose husband has Dementia has helped them out by making a short video. Please take 2 minutes to view it.

Nora Owen for Ard Chúram


Top of William Street 2002

Mike the Pies, Martin Chute, Mistletoe and Macroom

Wintry Listowel in December 2019


Mike the Pies Rebranding

Mike the Pies has been painted green for as long as I can remember. All that’s changed in December 2019. This popular music venue, where half of Listowel would rather be, is now a sophisticated black.

There I was walking on Upper William Street when I spotted the sea change.

Returning later I saw Mr. Signs himself, Martin Chute, painting the new sign.

Doesn’t his I look a bit like a glass at this stage?

Spotting his friend, Eileen Worths, Martin stopped for a chat.

I was anxious not to distract the master at work. But the ever affable signwriter took a minute to greet me.


Mattie’s Letter takes a Tongue in Cheek Swipe


Uh! oh! The Mistletoe

( from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook)

When the kissing has to stop!

Mistletoe is a symbol of love, affection and friendship. It is also considered lucky and a protection from evil spirits and the devil, The origin of these associations goes back to Norse mythology and the legend of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin, and their son Baldur – too long for a FB post. Google it! Suffice to say that Frigg’s tears transformed into the berries on the mistletoe, and, on the resurrection of her son from the dead, she was so overjoyed that she blessed the plant and vowed to kiss everyone who passed beneath it.
So the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back a long way, though nowadays it is confined to the Christmas period. Some accounts say the proper procedure is that a berry is plucked from the plant each time a couple kisses and when all the berries are gone, the kissing has to stop. Ah, the bashful days of youth!
In the light of the almost daily charges of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual approaches in the workplace and elsewhere, this long-established tradition of kissing under the mistletoe must be in grave danger of being discarded. We can only hope that the coarse conduct and boorish behaviour of some, including those in high places, does not jeopardize this age-old, innocent Christmas custom and consign the blameless mistletoe to the compost heap of history.


Spotted In Macroom

Like Listowel, Macroom has retained much of its old character. When I stopped there for a spot of lunch lately (I highly recommend The Castle Hotel) I took a stroll around and spotted these gems.

A veritable old curiosity shop

Next door was a draper’s shop which still hangs the merchandise outside the door.


An Appeal

Next year, 2020 Listowel Writers Week will celebrate its 50th birthday. I’m planning to post some photos of memories of the festival down through the years. So I’m appealing to my Listowel Connection family to help me out.

If you have a memory or a photo you would be willing to share please drop me an email.

Macroom, Travelling by Train, The Lartigue Monorail and Guerin’s A &O

Macroom, Co. Cork

Macroom Town Square is lovely with all its historical buildings.


Kent Station, Cork

One of the great perks of growing old in Ireland is the access to free travel. I recently travelled by train and it was a great experience. I wandered around Kent station a bit and saw some of the historic artefacts they have there, including  Engine No. 36.

This stone is in Thurles. I had to change here so I had a while to wander around and take a few snaps. This stone intrigued me. Any idea what it means?

Thurles train station is beautifully maintained. It was pinning its colours to the mast in style this summer 2019.


Today’s Fun Fact

from The Second Book of General Ignorance

If you toss a coin are the chances of it’s landing on heads fifty fifty?

The answer is No.

If the coin is heads up to begin with the chances are fifty one forty nine.

Students at Stanford University (with a lot of time on their hands!) recorded thousands of coin tosses with high-speed cameras and they discovered this interesting? fact.

They discovered that coin tossing is not random but “a measurable event that obeys the laws of physics.” If all the conditions are exactly the same then the chances are fifty fifty.  However, the slightest change in conditions, such as speed and angle of tops, height of coin from the ground, which side is facing up at the start, will affect the result.

A historic toss of a coin was not such a fun fact if you were Russian. In 1968 Italy and Russian were the teams playing in the semi final of The European Football Championship. The game ended in a scoreless draw. There were no penalty shoot outs in those days and there was no time in the schedule for a replay. The result was decided by the toss of a coin. Russia lost. Italy won the toss and the game and went on to win the final.

I wonder did anyone suggest doing best of three?


More from my Visit to The Lartigue Museum

Our guide on the day I visited the Lartigue was Michael Guerin who wrote the book on The Lartigue. He pointed out to us that this wheel on top of the trestle track is the wheel that keeps the train running. The smaller wheels on either side just keep the carriages balanced.

Michael has visited Panissieres where the only other Lartigue train was commissioned on several occasions. He is very knowledgeable about the history of the train in our French twinned town. The train actually never ran and was the cause of a big scandal, with much money expended on the project and no train service to show at the end of the planning process.

Michael was the Mayor of Listowel when the Lartigue restoration project was first started. He was one of the driving forces behind the project. He paid huge tribute to Jack McKenna who was a generous benefactor, supporter and volunteer at The Lartigue from the start until his recent death. The museum is dedicated to him. Jimmy Deenihan was another generous benefactor and supporter of the project from the start. Without the support of these and many other workers we would not have this great visitor attraction today. Everyone should visit. It is open every afternoon until September.

These Danish visitors were enthralled and videoing everything.

Original timetables


Remember when?

Brasso is a product that I only use very sparingly and very rarely. My tin is very old. I thought that maybe some reader might be able to put a date on it based on the price sticker.


Culture Corner at Revival 2019

In The Kerry Writers’ Museum during Revival on August 9th and 10th 2019 there was a craft fair and poetry session.

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