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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Woodford Pottery, Listowel Races 2019, Progress on The Greenway and North Kerry success at The Ploughing

Hands of a Master Craftsman

 Pat Murphy throwing a pot at his Woodford Pottery Studio in Sept 2019


Saturday at The Races

Saturday September 14th 2019 was a gloriously sunny day on the island. The big screens were in place to show the All Ireland Football replay between Kerry and Dublin and the Tidy Towns inspired fashion event was taking place.

 The judges were out and about mingling with the racegoers in vintage gear. In my photo the judge is in white and the lady on the far left was chosen as the winner. The rules said that your outfit had to be genuinely vintage and to have been upcycled by you. You had to wear a headpiece. This elegant lady fulfilled all these requirements.

The lovely ladies from Oonagh Hartnett’s were offering us sweets, some timely advice on sun protection, a squirt of perfume and entry into a raffle.

Another judge checking out the vintage of this lady’s garments.

 My lovely former neighbour, Anne Leneghan, came second in this smashing suit which someone else had worn to a son’s wedding. Anne had up-styled it with pearls from a broken pearl necklace and she had pinned down the lapels with a pair of pearl earrings. She was wearing her 90 year old mother’s going away hat and her lace gloves.

The always stylish Betty Stack with her daughter Maria and their friend, Anne Leneghan.

 Noelle and her friends were studying form when I interrupted them.

Gemma and Mairead Regan gave me a tip they got “from some fellow on the way in”. It won.

 Rose Wall was accompanied by her handsome son.


Good News on the Greenway

This is the report from the council meeting:

A dedicated team in Kerry County Council is to be appointed to progress two greenway projects to completion.

The status of the North Kerry Greenway was discussed at the monthly meeting of the Listowel Municipal District.

Councillor Mike Kennelly called for all resources to be put in place to get the multi-million-euro greenway from Listowel to the Limerick border over the line.

The Fine Gael councillor pointed to bureaucracy with Government departments with such projects.

Listowel MD Manager, Joan McCarthy told Cllr Kennelly that nobody is dragging their heels on the project adding that it is protection of public funds and not bureaucracy.

Kerry County Council says a senior engineer has been appointed to oversee both the North Kerry Greenway and the Tralee to Fenit Greenway; a team will be appointed shortly to progress both projects.

Work on the north Kerry project is expected to begin later this year and will take 18 months to complete.


Michael Guerin, Listowel


Upcoming Events


The Ploughing

Photo: Radio Kerry

Daniel Burke from Causeway and Derek O’Driscoll from Ballyheigue, who both claimed an All-Ireland title at this year’s Ploughing Championships

I’ve never been to “The Ploughing” but I’m told it’s possible to spend days there without seeing a plough or a ploughman. It’s a place for shopping, socialising, entertainment and education. I was delighted to see that these young men have got back to what it’s all about, celebrating the skill and art of ploughing.

Listowel Tidy Towns’ Vintage Day at Listowel Races 2016

Where  Things old are valued

Vintage Day at Listowel Races
is my favourite of all the side shows that take place during race week. It is
the brainchild of Listowel Tidy Towns and every year it  goes from strength to strength.

The marquee was packed on
Saturday Sept 16 2016. There was none of this pink wristband palaver. We were
all welcomed in . The interviews, sympathetically conducted by Orlagh Winters,
were entertaining and enjoyable. None of this “I bought this here and that there,” of Friday’s fashion fest. This was trips down memory lane, charity shop finds
and a few obvious lies…all part of the fun.

First up were the men and Joe
Broderick stole the show. He spun more yarns than a silkworm but he is such a
lovable rogue that we all played along. He flirted with Orlagh, flattered and
amused the audience and best of all he looked a million dollars. He was a hard act
to follow but the stag on the inflatable horse came close. He had come from
London with 14 friends and they were having a great time at The Races. Stag
parties at The Races is a growing trend in recent years. There was also a hen
party but they were from closer to home, from Limerick.

In this competition, the story of the outfit is
part of the fun. 

Anne Leneghan of Kanturk and Bishopstown was sponsored by the
Kanturk St. Vincent de Paul shop. She asked them to be on the lookout for
anything vintage for her to wear and they found just the ticket….a 1970s bottle
green crimpelene suit and they also sourced the alligator bag, with the claws on
show, for her. 

I recorded part of Anne’s interview with Orlagh.

Anne Leneghan Interview

Anne’s friend, Listowel girl, Maria Stack had a great story to tell
about her accessories. Maria bought her bag for €4 in The Killarney St. Vincent de Paul shop. When she got it home, she examined it more closely and this is what she discovered.

Maria’s charity shop find was a Beverley bag. When she Googled Beverley bags she found out that the wife of Ireland’s first Uachtarán, Seán T. OCeallaigh carried a Beverley bag on her arm on their first state visit to the U.S. for St. Patrick’s Day. That bag is now in the National Museum of Ireland.

Inside Maria’s bag was the original tag.  Maria’s bag  cost £5. 15s first day.

In the bag Maria also found a ticket for the viewing gallery at The Empire State Building. So Maria’s bag had a trip stateside too.

Above is a photograph of the christening dress Maria’s mother, the very talented Betty Stack, made for her children. She permitted Maria to use it to make her hat for Vintage Day. Maria knew that the treasured christening robe was a family heirloom. She used all her millinery skills to create the chapeau without ever taking a scissors to her mother’s creation.

That’s Betty on the right of her great friend, Nora Sheahan.

Norella Moriarty
was in her going away outfit, set off by her great grandmother’s silver brooch.
Her uncle posted it to her in an
envelope to wear at her wedding in America.

Helen Carmody wore her wedding suit. She looked stunning.

 Other outfits were sourced from vintage shops and relative’s wardrobes.

Many of the contestants were attired in such timeless style that they could have entered the best dressed lady competition of the day before and outshone many of the very expensive ensembles on parade.

Deirdre O’Sullivan’s orange and black outfit was a typical classic.

Stylish Eilish described her fetching ensemble as last minute dot com. Her first choice failed to work out, so she begged, borrowed but didn’t steal to put this yellow and black stunner together.

Miriam O’Connor dyed her hair a vintage shade of grey to set off her eye catching style.

Niamh Kenny was resplendent in a timelessly elegant outfit  Her coat she picked up in a shop in Cork and her gorgeous shoes and bag were once worn by her mother.

Imelda Murphy was beautifully turned out. She couldn’t enter the competition as she was involved in organising it.

The entrants on stage.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the winner and the runner up.

Ladies Day 2016 and Junior Griffin at 80

A Thing of beauty is a joy forever

Ladies Day at Listowel Races 2016 was the biggest day in terms of numbers of the Listowel meeting.

There were prizes for the best dressed lady, the best dressed young racer and the best dressed couple. There was plenty for the judges to choose from.

Maria Stack’s handbag was made especially for her using her own photos of her syndicate’s horse.


John (Junior Griffin) at 80

Junior would pass for a man 30 years younger. He is fit and healthy and still contributing as a volunteer to his town and his county. If you meet him on the street be sure to congratulate him on the big birthday. He tells me that his old boss, Jack McKenna, has a birthday this week as well. He will be 98.

Junior always has a story to tell. He is one of Listowel’s best company to be in. He told me that he and the late Justin Stack were born in Miss Chapman’s lying in hospital in Church St. They were born within an hour  of one another but because it was either side of midnight Junior’s birthday is on the 17th and Justin’s was on the 16th. Justine used to refer to Junior as “young Griffin” and Junior called Justin “old Stack”.

Junior’s nieces and nephews came from near and far, from Belgium and England to celebrate with him in The Listowel Arms on Sunday. His niece, Imelda, sent me this photo of them all with their beloved uncle.

I took a few photos of Junior after morning mass on Monday Sept 19 2016 when he was 80 years and one day. With him in my photo are his friend and old work colleague, John Brosnan and P.J. and Joan Kenny.

Old friends, Sr. Áine Ashe and Junior

Maria Stack, Milliner, Athea Mural and The Field in St. John’s

Mike Enright captured this breathtaking sunset in Ballybunion last week.


Maria Stack in Melbourne

On the left of this picture is our very own Maria Stack of Listowel. You will remember her from Ladies Day and Recycle Upcycle Day at Listowel Races. She is also the daughter of the very talented and very stylish, Betty.

Maria is a milliner. She has converted what was a hobby into a business. I think you will agree her hat for The Melbourne Cup is an unusual and inspired creation and the perfect crowning glory for her beautiful dress. Maria was one of 100 milliners worldwide to be invited to take part in this prestigious millinery event. On the right of the photo is her model, Pearl, wearing Maria’s entry for the competition.

I think you will agree that Maria did us proud and her handiwork is up there with the best.

Her Facebook page with all the news of her trip is here Maria Stack Millinery

It wasn’t all glamour and sunshine in Australia. Maria had to improvise a rain outfit for the unexpected showers.

How about this idea at Listowel Races Ladies’ Day? 

These guys were kind of roaming Rose of Tralee escort types.


Update on Athea Mural

Anyone visiting me has to accompany me on a trip to Athea. My 2 lovely grandsons had the usual outing during their Halloween break. 

First stop was Jim Dunn’s mural to view progress. I experimented a bit with colour, trying sepias and black and white. I think you will agree the old world charm of this scene lends itself to an old world medium.

Aren’t these 2 little observers beautifully captured.

The detail in this cameo never ceases to enthrall me.

Ah, perfection!


The Field;   50th Anniversary Production

Don’t miss it! A really strong cast of local thespians has been assembled for this one. Who better to play John B.’s characters than his own people. The photos are Frances Kennedy’s.


What a photo!

Dillon Boyer of Listowel took a super picture of a storm in Dingle and it was printed in last Saturday’s Examiner.


Funeral of Leo Griffin

Photo: Tralee Today

Milk pudding, Halloween in Tralee and The Melbourne Cup


Your daily dose of Nostalgia

Do you recognize the above?

They are semolina pudding and rice pudding respectively and they were staples in the diet of Irish youngsters in the early years of the twentieth century. Oh yes! and there was sago and tapioca for variety.

These delicacies were the desserts of my childhood. Their collective title was Milk Puddings. Their main ingredient was milk which was in plentiful supply. They were served with a spoon of jam….also in plentiful supply, or sultanas….not in such plenty and so a luxury.

When presented by me to one of today’s youngsters, I was met with, “That looks like someone’s eaten it already.” The same youngsters also hate jelly and custard, a luxurious dessert which was only served in our house on Sundays.


I Love Being a Nana

I went with my family to the Halloween experience in the Kerry Museum in Tralee.  It was a great few hours, enjoyed by all except the youngest who was scared out of her wits.  If truth be told, I had the bejasus scared out of myself as I strode ahead pretending to be brave only to meet with a ghoul who seemed to have escaped his enclosure and was wandering among the visitors.

The usual museum exhibits are transformed into medieval torture chambers with real live monsters mixing with statues. We were all very impressed. The vault -like setting and the near total darkness added to the atmosphere. My older grandchildren gave it 10 out of 10.

At he end of the Hall of Horrors was a room where the children got to do some coloring. They came away with spooky door hangers and pictures.

This was the entrance hall. I think I was already a bit fearful…the photo is a bit shaky. The youngest was very brave at this early stage. She volunteered to sit on the ghost’s knee.

Even John B. hasd a spooky makeover for Haloween


Images of a bygone Ireland…the bad old days

Connemara and the Aran Islands are distinguished by their tiny fields surrounded by stone walls. This image  (Rare Irish Stuff) is of Inis Meáin where the walls were higher than elsewhere . The place in the 1940s was a place of poverty and hardship.

This is Belfast in the 1980s at the height of the northern conflict. This was the procedure as you entered any shopping street. People queued at checkpoints where armed soldiers, questioned, searched and frisked every one. In every shop there was security at the entrance and every bag was searched. Armed soldiers policed the streets, yet no one felt safe.


History is made at The Melbourne Cup 2015

This photo from the racecourse’s webpage shows Michelle Payne winning the Melbourne Cup, the richest horse race in Australia. the horse is Prince of Penzance and you could have backed him at 100/1. Michelle is the first lady to win this prestigious event.

We had our own lady at the races. Maria Stack, a good friend of Listowel Connection is having the trip of a lifetime down under. Here are a few of her photos from Melbourne.

Posing with the Melbourne Cup

Maria got the golden ticket.

Some of the fare at Flemington Racecourse Skyline Restaurant

Maria looking  smashing at the races.

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