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: Marconi

A Touching Note, Christmas goodies, Tidy Towning and Men at The Ballybunion Marconi Station

Phot: Lisa Egan of Mallow Camera Club


A Love Letter found in an Old  Bible in Tralee


Marconi Station, Ballybunion

Liam OHainnín posted this photo of workers at the Marconi Station in Ballybunion on Facebook. He was wondering if anyone had any names for these men. Maybe someone else has the phot with names or maybe it appeared in some publication.


Christmas Goods on Display at Listowel Garden Centre


Tidy Towning

I met Julie Gleeson freshening up the display at St. Mary’s. There is a lot of hard work and relentless slog goes into getting that Tidy Town gold medal.


Halloween in Ballybunion and Knocknagoshel

The Slate House, Sinn Féin in 1919,St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019 and a Marconi Centenary in Ballybunion

Ballybunion March 17 2019


The Slate House

This Ballybunion house recently featured in the TV programme Home of the Year. It didn’t win but it came close.

It is a luxury architect- designed house with stunning views.

I saw it recently advertised on Air B and B at a rate of €700 per night.


A Rabble Rousing Speech from 1919

Kerryman  Saturday, January 11, 1919
Nationalist Meeting in Listowel (Edited)

…..The speaker then proposed the resolution to the meeting which was seconded by Mr. T. J. Walsh, and passed with acclamation.

The Rev. Father Charles O’Sullivan, C.C., then came to the front of the wagonette and was received with a perfect storm of applause. The cheering having ceased, he said—Men of this young and unconquerable Ireland, the weather has put a serious strain upon our endurance this morning, but it is as nothing in comparison with the discomforts of soul and body suffered by those fellow-countrymen of ours those men of the breed and stuff of heroes who are enjoying the cold plank beds and the comfortless fare of British Imperial hospitality (cheers). 

Our first word to-day is congratulation to Cathal Brugha (hear, hear). He is not a Polish Jew, nor a Russian Bolshevist, nor a German spy (laughter). He is the elected representative of Waterford County who was arrested the other day for the crime of bearing and using his father’s name (laughter). Surely Johnbulism in Ireland has long since become a laughable farce, and if it had not been a stumbling block in the way of human liberty it would be a laughing stock indeed (hear, hear). We thank John Bull for this now piece of stupid buffoonery, and for this fresh bit of merriment in these serious times (laughter). 

Our second word is to offer to our own Sean McKenna our most hearty congratulations (loud cheering, which continued for some minutes). He appears with us to-day—(cries of he is welcome and cheers)—invested with a now title to our honour and esteem (hear, hear). Everybody in Kerry—yea in Erin knows what this title is. On this deathless combat between the Celt and the Saxon which is now in its last throes—in this strife between two forces divergent in their ideals and purposes as Columkille and Luther (laughter). In this combat John McKenna became a prisoner of war, he fell into the clutches of a tyranny as has never been conceived by Prussian, Russian or Turk to outrage the spirit of liberty and to extinguish that sentiment of racial self-respect, self-dependence and self-reliance, which is the very foundation of free national community life. How like and how familiar is the monster tyranny in all climes and ages the same old maws and the same old paws; (laughter). The old dragonheaded monster known abroad as Prussianism, Russianism, Turkism has for long centuries been seeking to devour this noble land of ours under the name of Saxonism. They never will (cheers). Now is the day, now is the hour for us to rise from slumber and to be up and doing, and watching and guarding from the hill tops of Gael-land (cheers). All Ireland asked to-day was to be allowed to take her place in a league of free peoples, in equal rights and equal chances in the pursuit of prosperity and peace (hear, hear, and cheers).


More from St. Patrick’s Day 2019


Rescue Services

On the day of the Marconi celebrations Radio Kerry provided live coverage of the whole event and a great account of the Marconi story.


On March 19 2019 at the Marconi centenary celebration in Ballybunion, as well as wireless station memorabilia and early wirelesses there were many of our rescue personnel and rescue vehicles on display.

Jed Chute is here chatting to Liam OHainnín of Beale who is an expert in all things wireless and he had some of his many wireless related artefacts on display on the day.


There were lots of children there when I was there and they were very interested in the rescue vehicles and the work of the rescue people.

Listowel Square, Knitwits, Writers’ Week in the 1970s, March 17 2019 and a Marconi Centenary

Trees in Listowel Town Square



Knitwits, Listowel knitting group meet in Scribes in Church Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11.00a.m.


Listowel Writers’ Week , The Early Days

John Pierse has this photograph of  a very early Writers’ Week Committee. 

Recently Aidan OMurchú donated a copy of Reality magazine from 1975 to the present Writers’ Week committee.

Aidan’s dad, Luaí OMurchú was an early chair of the committee. Under his pen name, Redmond O”Hanlon, he wrote an article for Reality about the  early days.

He quotes Seamus Wilmot’s definition of Writers’ Week as “A showing of the man to the boy, the writer to the aspirant, an examination and an evaluation.”

Bryan MacMahon saw it as “a bit of impertinence on our part.”

Hugh Leonard proclaimed it “a Kerry Baccinalia”.

“An orgy of sociability”  John Boland.

Listowel Writers Week is still all of these things and more. I popped into the office recently and I got a glimpse of the storyboard of this year’s festival. It was filled with “big names”. Everyone who is anyone in Irish writing today seems to be coming our way sometime between May 29 and June 3 2019.

I have just finished reading John Boyne’s Ladder to the Sky. Brilliant! My book club has read Kit de Waal’s The Trick to Time, a book that stayed with me long after I had put it down. I am reading a brilliant new Irish writer at the moment. Anne Griffin reminds me a lot of Donal Ryan. Her book is When all is Said and it is a great read. I can get to meet all of these writers in my own home town this summer. What’s not to love about Listowel Writers’ Week?


Listowel St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019


Centenary Commemoration of Marconi Station in Ballybunion

One hundred years ago this was the Marconi Radio Station in Ballybunion. Today it is Coláiste Bhréanainn. On Tuesday March 19 2019 Ballybunion looked back at the historic day when the first east to west voice message was broadcast across the Atlantic.

Above are some of the artefacts which were on display on the day. I took my photos in black and white as a medium befitting the occasion.

This man was teaching the children how to send a message in Morse Code. He favoured the mobile phone himself.

There is a great video of the unveiling of the commemorative plaque here

Marconi Centenary

St. Patrick’s Day, Lizzy’s, Tae Lane Cinema and a Look back at previous parades

Lower William Street

 Lizzy’s Little Kitchen where our celebrated TV chef runs a popular eat-in and take away business. This is one of Listowel’s many culinary attractions.


A Cinema?

This building in Tae Lane was once a picture house. Listowel then had several cinemas, dance halls and places of entertainment.

You know the way sometimes in the theatre they warn you that your seat has a “restricted view” and you find yourself behind a huge pillar or other obstruction. This little cinema had just that…seats with a restricted view. There was a bend in the lane and the building was built around the bend so people sitting in this corner had to lean out a bit to see the screen. All part of the charm, I’m sure.


St. Patrick’s weekend

Just to get you in the mood for our national holiday here are a few photos from previous years. Some of these are from overseas friends of Listowel.


Celebrating Marconi

This event will be amazing! Fair play and all the best wishes to everyone involved. 

Ballybunion was very busy, exciting and ahead of it’s time too, 100 years ago!

On Tuesday the 19th of March Princess Elettra Giovanelli, daughter of Marconi and her son Prince Gugielmo Marconi will visit the former site of the Marconi Radio Station on the 100 year anniversary of the first spoken word from East to West from the Radio Station to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Canada. In the afternoon they will unveil a commemorative plaque to this historic occasion in Ballybunion.
On March 19, 1919 Guglielmo Marconi made the first radio wireless voice transmission across the Atlantic. And he did it from Ballybunion. 100 years later, there is a commemoration of this historic event in the Irish College, Ballybunion. If you have ever used a radio, then you are enjoying the work of this man. Mark the date: March 19, time 9.30 – 1500

Events include presentations, demonstrations exhibitions , as well as the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the event, by Prince Marconi (Guglielmo’s grandson). The presence of the Marconi family is a great boon.

The Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter is expected to drop in for photos too!


Calgary Tower

Barbara Watts sent us this photo to show us what Calgary Towel will look like on Sunday

Craftfair, Aghadoe, Bothar, Christmas in Killarney and Ballybunion Radio Station

Seanchaí Craft Fair

Pat Murphy was in The Kerry Writers’ Centre on Sunday December 16 2018 with some lovely new stock.

Vincent Carmody was selling his unique new book of printed materials from 1870 to 1970.

This new hair device, Dreamy Curls, curls your locks without the aid of heat. It is invented, made and marketed in Listowel. I bought one for my granddaughters. I’ll let you know how it goes when they have road tested it.

Orla has had 2 craft fairs in a row so she had enlisted some young help with this one. Her confectionary was selling fast.


Aghadoe, Killarney

The path to the viewing spot at Aghadoe

Remains of old tower in Aghadoe

Heavenly spot.


Sheep May Safely Graze

When I saw this pastoral scene on may way back from Aghadoe I was reminded of the hymn;

Sheep may safely graze and pasture

Where a shepherd guards them well.

So the nation ruled in wisdom

Knows and shares the many blessings

Which both peace and plenty bring.

And then I spotted the sign on the next door fence.


Christmas in Killarney


Ballybunion Radio Station

(Photo and text from Liam O’Hainnín on Facebook)

Despite references in several publications, Ballybunion Station was not built by Marconi, and never operated commercially. The station was built by the Universal Radio Syndicate. Construction started in 1912, but the station had not obtained a commercial licence by the time World War 1 started. The company went into liquidation in 1915. A sister station at Newcastle New Brunswick, built to the same design as Ballybunion, suffered a similar fate. The Marconi Company bought the two stations from the liquidator in 1919, mainly to prevent their use by potential competitors. The stations were not idle in the interim, however, having been appropriated by the British Admiralty almost immediately upon outbreak of the Great War and kept in constant activity as key components of the allied communication system until the Armistice of November 1918.

The Marconi Company did not use the stations commercially, and it would appear that the Ballybunion station was only used briefly, in March 1919 for a successful telephony experiment with the Marconi station in Louisbourg, and for communication with the R34 airship in July 1919.

In March 1919, Marconi engineers H.J Round and W.T. Ditcham made the first east-west transatlantic broadcast of voice, using valve technology, from the Ballybunion station using the callsignYXQ. The first west to east voice transmission had already been achieved by Bell Systems engineers from the US Navy station at Arlington Virginia to the Eiffel Tower in October 1915.

The contents of Clifden and Ballybunion were sold for scrap to a Sheffield-based scrap merchant, Thos. W. Ward in 1925.

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