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

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Predecimal coins, listowel military, Fighting Gorse Fires and Some Lockdown Activities

Listowel Garda Station in May 2020


from Fogotten Ireland


A Gorse Fire

John Kelliher took this photo of a recent gorse fire.


Listowel Military

Maureen Barrett formerly of Ballylongford sent us this photograph. She only knows a few lads but maybe other people will know more.

I presume that this is the Listowel FCA/LDF members from away back.

I know only a few people that are from Ballylongford  

front in center in civilian clothes is Dave Neligan from Ahanagran, Ballylongford, 

first row standing 4th from the right is Tommy Hennessy (RIP) Ballylongford, peeking over his shoulder is Patrick Moriarty Ballylongford-sorry to say don’t know anyone else-some of your followers might be able to help-Maureen Barrett


Keeping Busy in Lockdown

Breda Ferris has been to the bog in Ballylongford.

In Switzerland, Laura, granddaughter of our friends Jim and Liz Dunn of Athea, looks after her chickens.

In London, Maria Sham, formerly of Listowel is busy baking and barbecuing.

Bernie Carmody visited St. Batt’s Well.

In Dublin, Eamon ÓMurchú went for a spin on his bike.

Eamon at the Eccentric Orbit sculpture in Portmarnock.

An Emigrant Returns, a Lovely Gift and more from the Open Day at Curraghatoosane

Holocaust Memorial in Listowel’s Garden of Europe


Welcome Home, Maria

Maria Canty Sham made a very enjoyable visit home recently. She reunited with family and friends and I was delighted to meet in the flesh one of the greatest fans and supporters of  Listowel Connection.

I met Maria and her sister, Kathleen shopping with Anne Dillon and while we were talking another cousin joined us.

Cousins, Muireann, Maria, Kathleen and Doreen meeting up for a trip down Memory Lane


Catching up with Friends

Regular Flying Saucer customers, myself, Maureen Hartnett, Joan Kenny and Helen Moylan met up with Sr. Helen Hartnett on Monday. Sr. Helen is visiting her Listowel family from South Africa, where she works.


A Gift from a Gifted Needlewoman

I received this lovely present from Jurga who made it herself using four needles. Isn’t she so talented and she knew just the kind of thing I would love. Thank you.


Visiting the Site of an Old Cottage

Very interested local people at the site of the old O’Connor cottage on the Open Day, July 30 2019


Reroofing in Main Street

Ballyvourney, Listowel’s One Stop Sweet Shop, roadworks at the courthouse an the 2019 Parade

Jim McSweeney


Séipéal Bhaile Mhuirne

I often pass through Ballyvourney on my way to Cork. It’s a lovely little Gaeltacht village full of old world charm and character. One day last week I took a pit stop in the village and I explored the lovely  church. The photos speak for themselves.


One Stop Shop on Church Street

For all your confectionery needs


Gas Works?

Last week they were digging up the pavement at the library plaza.


Listowel St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019

Some people were in Listowel and some people wish they were.

Steve Scallon LAPD from Monaghan ,Tony Curtin NYPD Clounmacon, Greg Sterns LAPD at the St Patrick’s Day Parade New York. 

(Photo: Facebook)

Philomena Kuhn at her home in Germany

Maria Sham celebrated with her friends in London

Beano, The Bog,The River, The Courthouse and the Ambassador

The River Walk in January 2017

Photo by Deirdre Lyons


Goodbye Ambassador

Kevin O’Malley has returned to the U.S. and the new ambassador, a Kerry man will be the next to take up the post.


Listowel Courthouse


Some Things are Timeless

I have someone in my family who loves nothing better than a session with her Beanos and she has a good few. Whenever I see an old Beano annual in a charity shop I buy it for her.

The photo shows her on Christmas Day 2016 when she abandoned all her other presents to read her Beano first.


Maria Sham Remembers the Races and The Bog

The railway was very exciting during The Races, which fell at the end of September. It was the Harvest Festival when all the farmers would have finished the harvest and come to town. It would go on for 3 days and well into the nights. The horses would be transported onto the train for the races. The town would be decorated with buntings and music played into the early hours of the morning.

All the country people came to town and you would see them walking through the streets eating crubeens [pigs feet]. They would be displayed in all the shop windows in large dishes, steaming hot. The streets would be strewn with bones . I can’t remember any rubbish bins then. Another special treat at that time and still is!! mutton pies, all the restaurants would sell them in soup plates covered in soup.

Mam would make dozens for us and there would be a big pot of bone broth left on the range the whole of The Races so we could pop in a pie anytime. Nothing spoiled as there were no onions in anything.

But for us children it was not about horse races, but the market. It was a delight with bumper cars, swinging boats, chair planes, the wheel of death, and lots more, games to win anything from a doll to a set of saucepans. My favourite was at the entrance to the market with the tinkers, now called Travellers’. They lived in horse drawn caravans then. They would have fires lit and do their cooking outside, selling heather and telling fortunes, I am sure I can still smell the smoke. As I got older I got a job for the days of the races from 9am to maybe 10pm a £1 for the day.

Another big occasion for our family and for all the people at that time was the cutting of the turf and bringing it home. The turf would be cut with a slawn and would be allowed to dry. Well the bringing home was a great effort and in those days all the neighbours helped each other. On one occasion one of the men fell into a bog hole and had to come home without his trousers only a sack tied around him. We had a great laugh.

That morning the men would set off early with bread and ham and the makings of tea,

On arrival back with a lorry full of turf mam would have a grand dinner ready for everyone, meat, potatoes and a pigs head. We all helped to draw in the turf and stack it in the shed in the back.

There was also a big field called Jack Thornton’s where we also played. We had to be careful and watch out for Jack as he would chase us with his big stick. He also had a shop on the Ballybunion road and we could buy a tosheen which was just a piece of paper rolled up in cone shape, full of sweets for a penny or a Peggy’s Leg or slab toffee which was a favourite of mine. A big treat was if we met dad at his local, Sheahens. Then it was a bottle of lemonade and a big cake.


A Clarification Re Listowel Badminton Tournament 

When I asked Junior for a photo of the first presentation of his trophy, he asked Tom Bourke to send me one. Now, I presumed that Tom was the photographer but, in fact, he is the winner of the trophy. When I asked about the whereabouts of the trophy I was told that it was on its way to Cork so I presumed the winners were a Cork partnership.

I was all wrong. So here is the photo again and the correct story from the horse’s mouth;

Thank you so much for printing that photo of the first presentation of the cup that the Listowel club commissioned and named after me.

Just to advise that Tom Bourke is not a Cork man. Whilst he is Clare native he is stationed in Kerry and has represented the Kingdom in Badminton for many years, being a winner of numerous Munster singles and doubles titles.

I commenced our mixed doubles event in 1972 and Tom is the leading winner, after his first win in Listowel in 2003  with Dublin’s Helena O’Sullivan , he won his 7th title this year with Cork’s Niamh O’Driscoll who competed in Listowel for the first time. Tom’s 7 wins includes a treble from 2011 to 2013, his partners being Brid Murphy and Peggy Horan, both Kerry, and Patricia O’Herlihy of Cork.

Thanks again Mary


Well done, Tom from Listowelconnection


R.I.P. John Hurt

This photo shared on Facebook by John Keane was taken when John Hurt came to Listowel. The two Johns had a great respect for one another and everyone agrees that John Hurt was a brilliant interpreter of the character, Bird O’Donnell, in John B’s The Field. 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamnacha araon.

Planting in the Park,Tara Brooch and More Listowel Memories

Giving it Full Blast

This magnificent shot won Jim MacSweeney a bronze medal at a recent photography competition. The photo was taken in Killarney National Park during the rutting season.


This Listowel public house got a new sign while I wasn’t looking.


1916 Commemorative Garden

 I took this photograph of the 1916 installation from the path beside the pitch and putt course. I went into the garden and photographed details of the planting. It’s well worth a visit. It’s lovely.

The design for the garden is in the shape of the famous Tara Brooch.

Here is the story of the Tara Brooch from the Irish Central website:

The Tara Brooch is perhaps Ireland’s greatest piece of
jewelry dating from the 7th century AD. It remains a popular symbol of Ireland
and the country’s rich ancestral

Although the beautiful brooch is
named after theHill of Tara, traditionally seen as the seat of theHigh Kings of Ireland, the Tara Brooch has no connection to either the Hill of Tara
or the High Kings.

The brooch was supposedly found in
August 1850 on the beach at Bettystown, County Meath by a peasant woman. The
story goes that she found it in a box buried in the sand, though many believe
the brooch was actually found inland but the woman’s family altered the facts
to avoid a legal dispute with a landowner.

It was sold to a dealer and then
made its way into the hands of Dublin jeweler George Waterhouse. With a keen
sense of trends, Waterhouse was already producing Celtic Revival jewelry, which
had become immensely fashionable over the previous decade. It was he who
renamed the precious item the “Tara Brooch,” in order to make it more

Waterhouse chose the name Tara in
order to link the brooch to the site associated withthe High Kings of
, “fully aware that this would feed the Irish
middle-class fantasy of being descended from them.” And it worked. The
Tara Brooch was displayed as a standout showpiece at The Great Exhibition in
London in 1851 and the Paris Exposition Universelle, as well as the Dublin
exhibition visited by the Queen in 1853. Prior to this, it had even been
specially sent to Windsor Castle for her inspection.

In 1872, the brooch was added to the
collection of the Royal Irish Academy, which later issued its antiquities to
theNational Museum of
, where the Tara Brooch remains today.

TheNational Museum notesthat “It is made of cast and gilt silver and is elaborately
decorated on both faces. The front is ornamented with a series of exceptionally
fine gold filigree panels depicting animal and abstract motifs that are
separated by studs of glass, enamel, and amber. The back is flatter than the
front, and the decoration is cast. The motifs consist of scrolls and triple
spirals and recall La Tène decoration of the Iron Age.

“A silver chain made of plaited wire
is attached to the brooch by means of a swivel attachment. This feature is
formed of animal heads framing two tiny cast glass human heads.

“Along with such treasures as the
Ardagh Chalice and the Derrynaflan Paten, the Tara Brooch can be considered to
represent the pinnacle of early medieval Irish metalworkers’ achievement. Each
individual element of decoration is executed perfectly and the range of
technique represented on such a small object is astounding.”


Maria Sham’s Memories of Happy Listowel Sundays

The family in Gurtinard

After dinner on
Sunday we would all go to my Grandmother Moloney’s house in Charles Street and
take some jelly and current loaf for her. Mam would meet up with her sisters
there and enjoy a little gossip.  Our
cousins would also meet there and we would all sit on the door step and wait
for our uncle Jimmy to get home. He would give all of us 2p for the cinema.
Sometimes on a Sunday my brother Paddy would go fishing and we would have a
fresh trout for tea.

Moloney kept pigs in a pig sty in the back yard and as she was a bit feeble she
would ask us children to take the pig food and feed them. I was scared stiff of them and would
throw the food on their backs and run. Poor Mud, as we called her, was so glad
thinking I had looked after the pigs and fed them. She was a bit deaf and could
not hear us giggling. It was this grandmother that bought my first suitcase
years later when I was leaving to go to England.

Some Sundays we
would go for walks to the spa and through the woods to pick bluebells. The wood
looked fantastic like a carpet of blue. Then we’d walk home through gurtenard
and up through the graveyard, our arms loaded with bluebells.

The train ran at
the back of our house and we were like the railway children. We would sit on
the big bridge and watch who came off, anyone we knew coming from England just
to see what they were wearing. It was also sad to see people crying as they
were saying goodbye, leaving on the train the first leg of their journey to
England. It was on this train I also left many years later.

The last train came
in about 6.O’clock. Then the railway gates were locked for the night. We could
then go and play there. It was quite safe. We would go to the cattle pens and
have great times.

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