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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: Martin Chute Page 1 of 4

Football, Racing and Playwriting

Statue of Bryan MacMahon at Kerry Writers’ Museum

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Master at Work

Martin Chute is, sign by sign, leaving his mark on Listowel. His work is an invaluable asset to our heritage town. I snapped him painting Finesse Bridalwear sign. Note he is writing in the traditional way with maul stick and brush.

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Sam Maguire in Town

There was a huge crowd in town to see the cup. I was amused to see the event described as a homecoming.

I wasn’t in The Square. I took the following photos on Upper Church Street.

Three lovely Hannon ladies

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Tom Coffey R.I.P. Playwright and Teacher

A lady was one day Googling her ancestors and she came upon the above headline in Listowel Connection

Tom, pictured at the back right between Mick Relihan and Pat Mc Elligott is remembered. I asked Marie Shaw if she remembered him and this is what she wrote:

“I can’t claim to know him personally Mary, I didn’t even remember his first name until you mentioned it, but I did take a commercial course with him at the Tech. What I remember vividly is his “Movie Star” good looks. There wasn’t a teenager in the town of Listowel at the time who wasn’t madly in love with him. Makes me smile just thinking of him. He was probably teaching at the Tech for two years. I left Ireland in 1958 and I would guess that he was in Listowel in 1956 and 1957.”


(I hope his family Google him and find out this forgotten corner of Tom’s life)

The lady who was doing the Googling was Tom’s granddaughter and she wrote

Hi there,

I found your posts about Tom Coffey—he was my grandfather. (I’m his son, Brian’s daughter.) I found the photo and sent it to my dad and grandmother. Thank you so much for posting about him; we all miss him very much, and it’s lovely to read about the other lives he touched. (I saw you hoped his family found the article, so I wanted to mention that, yes, we did.)

Thanks again,

Katie Coffey

The backstory: Junior Griffin gave me the photo and he told me that Mr. Coffey taught him Irish in the Tech. now Coláiste na Ríochta. Here is what Junior wrote in 2014

Having a look at this week’s Kerryman  I see an obituary on page 20 for the late Tom Coffey, very sorry to read about his recent death. You will see him in the back row of your recent photo.

They write about his time In Kerry but no mention of the time he spent here in Listowel. Now I started work in McKenna’s in Sept. 1953 and as  time went by struck up a friendship with 2 work colleagues, Willie Barrett and Pat Somers. Indeed, Pat who lived in Billerough, just before the Six Crosses, used to call for me in the morning and give me a bar up on his bicycle, a fine strong lad he was.

It must have been the following year that we decided to do an Irish evening class in the old tech and our teacher was none other than Tom Coffey. Irish dancing was another one of his subjects and those ladies in the front of your photo were also involved.

The Kerryman obituary mentions his first play called Luiochan, Irish for Ambush, and it seems it won an Oireachtas award.

In actual fact, it was a group of us that put on that play first. We did it in Moyvane, Ballybunion and Listowel, hence our presence in that photo. He decided to enter it for the Limerick Drama festival and we were highly commended by the judge, who happened to be a brother of Gay Byrne but we did not receive a prize due to the fact that we were the only Irish play taking part that year and we were not in competition with anyone. 

I honestly believe he was here in Listowel for 2 years, maybe the school terms of 1954 and 55. The obituary says he was in Dingle in 1955 so, if correct that could be starting the school term of ’55.

I did learn a good bit of Irish dancing from him but I most certainly did learn that I had 2 left feet.

He was a lovely man, I never met him after he left Listowel.

May he Rest in Peace

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More Sustainable Fashion

This great event on the Saturday of Race Week was a first for Listowel Tidy Towns and is greatly admired by other festivals.

Wardrobes and attics are raided and charity and vintage shops scoured in an effort to win the coveted title of best dressed lady in sustainable wear.

The competition was judged by international model, Sydney Sargent and Elaine Doyle of An Taisce. It’s great to see so many local people supporting this great initiative

Some of the Tidy Town Ladies who organised the event

I have known Anne Leneghan since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She is a great supporter of Listowel Races. Her outfit started life as a maxi dress and coat. Her bag she sourced in the charity shop and the hat was given to her as a present, all old and pre loved.

Lovely local lady, Nell Reidy, like myself, loves Listowel Vincent de Paul shop. She sourced her complete ensemble there over the years.

Maria Stack comes from a family who are both crafty, talented and dedicated to style, Maria always makes great effort in support of this event. Her beautiful tweed skirt she adapted from an A line one. It is one of many beautiful classic pieces she inherited from her aunt. Her coat was her mother’s but she had to reduce it a few sizes. She made her hat herself from material she bought from a man who was going out of the millinery business. Maria told us that she spent her spare time during Covid working on her sewing, crafting and hat making. It helped her de stress from her hectic job as a nurse in an acute respiratory ward.

Another local finalist was Deirdre Kissane. She found her classic red and black ensemble in her wardrobe. Deirdre looks after her clothes and buys pieces that will last.

When your mother is the very stylish Marian Relihan, then all you have to do to look this good is raid her wardrobe.

(more tomorrow)

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Just a Thought

If you missed me on Radio Kerry last week, and you would like to hear my reflections, here is the link

Just a Thought

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A Drunken Wall

Church Street, Listowel in November 2021

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John B. Keane’s Sive

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first performance of Sive, The Listowel Players produced a souvenir programme to go with their production of the play. They included a page from the original programme.

Margaret Ward, who played the first Sive when she was only a schoolgirl remembers an eventful rehearsal.

Lovely memories from Nora Relihan

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Martin Chute, Master Signwriter

Martin stopped for a short chat with a friend as he finished the sign on Griffin Butchers on William Street, Listowel

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Did you Know?

Listowel once had a structure called The Drunken Wall. It was located at the end of the footpath on the Neodata side (or Town Park side for those who don’t remember Neodata) of Bridge Road. It was a wall built across the footpath preventing you going any further. It was built to prevent intoxicated pedestrians from walking into the river which is about 100 yards from that point. The idea was that as soon as you hit the wall, you could go no further and you knew it was time to cross over to the other path which would lead you over the bridge.

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We’re having a Christmas Market

and we’re turning on the festive lights.

Photo; Listowel.ie on social media

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Listowel, Painting, Some Schoolgirls and International Storytelling Comes to Listowel

Listowel Big Bridge by Éamon ÓMurchú

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Back to Normal

The uniforms are on again as schools reopen after a very disrupted 18 months.

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Fact Stranger than Fiction

In 1951 the village of Cong, Co. Mayo delayed the rural electrification scheme so it could provide the setting for The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. (Irish Examiner)

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The Changing Face of Listowel

This house on Church Street is getting a facelift.

The walls have been stripped back to the blocks

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Carroll’s is being painted

Painters taking a well earned rest

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Pres. Primary school Second Class

Margaret Dillon provided all the names for her second class classmates.

Back Row L – R
Eileen O’Connor, Eleanor?Leahy, Nora Barry, Babe Murphy, Terry Buckley, Eileen Brazil, Patsy Browne.
2nd row,  from top, L- R Sheila Murphy, Eileen Corridan, Helen O’Quigley, Doreen Canty, Noreen O’Hanlon, Delia Walsh, Mary Walsh, Eileen Barrett,  Philomena Horgan, Joan Rowan, Eileen Donoghue.
3row , from top. L-R Carmel Gorman, Eileen Relihan, Marie Canty Connell, Nora Hanrahan, Brenda Dillon,  Margaret Dillon, Marie Moloney, Noreen O’Connor, Jeanie Hartnett.
Front row , L-R Marie Curtin, Kathleen Enright, Eileen Roche, Kathleen Corridan, Christine Keane, Kathleen Sheehy,Joan O’Brien, Frankie Chute.

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News from Kerry Writers’ Museum

Listowel International
Storytelling Festival 2021
We are delighted to announce that Listowel International Storytelling Festival returns in-person to Listowel from September 17th to 19th.  Now in its 3rd year the festival will feature a packed programme of events including storytelling sessions & workshops, story & history walks, music sessions and children’s storytelling. We are especially thrilled to have acclaimed storyteller Maria Gillen as our Artistic Director for the festival.

Our full programme will be available soon, but follow our Social Media pages or visit www.kerrywritersmuseum.com/storytelling-festival/ for updates on special guests and events.

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions our total audience capacity is limited.

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Molly, a Hare and a Master Signwriter at work

Golodcrest in Dromin by Paddy Fitzgibbon

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Update on Molly

Still the king of the castle but sheltering from the heat.

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The Blessed Well in Kilshenane

From Closing the Circle, an anthology of the poems of John McGrath

Hare

I met a hare along the road today,

Tall as a greyhound.

He hopped towards me,

hesitated, 

hopped again,

stopped to listen

to my freewheel click,

then turned and loped away.

I gazed in grateful awe

as with each simple spring

the distance grew between us,

marvelled how his quiet grace

belied his hidden power.


Then with one bound

he cleared a ditch

and disappeared from view

leaving me to wonder.

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Dancing in the 1970s

Those were the days.

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Church Street Tattoo


Our local tattooist was taking the opportunity in a lull in business to paint his door jamb.

He had a cancellation due to his client getting sunburnt.

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Master at Work

Martin Chute sign writing in the old fashioned way at Sheahan’s, Upper William Street on Saturday July 24 2021.

Martin was so focussed on his work, he wasn’t even aware I was photographing him. This man is the best at what he does. Listowel is blessed to have him working on our shopfronts.

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End of the Handball story

Listowel Presbytery with two church spires in the background

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Artists

On Church Street I met Martin Chute who was planning his sign for Lizzy’s Little Kitchen and with him is Mr. O’Mahoney who is opening his tattoo shop soon. Martin is doing that sign too.

A few days later I observed that the sign was done. Cool!

Lizzy’s is a great addition to Church Street The paintwork and colours are perfect and the sign is everything a sign should be, artistic, clear, well proportioned, uncluttered and tasteful. Well done all.

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Dominican Church, Tralee

This is the corner stone on this magnificent edifice. Below is what it says about it on the Dominican website.

The builder is named as Mr Arthur Crosbie and the cost at about £6000. The cornerstone of the building was laid on 15th August 1866, the Feast of the Assumption, by Mrs Anne Jeffers, wife of the Benefactor.

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In Gurtinard Wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same….

Robert Frost

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End of an Era

Junior finishes his story for us;

By the 1970s a new generation of handball lovers had come on the scene. Some of these that Junior remembers are Denny O’Connor, Eddie and Mike Broderick, Charlie Nolan, Tony Stack, Jer Loughnane, Con Gorman, Tony O’Neill, Jimmy Canty. There were many more in this new cohort too. The building of the Community Centre in the mid 1980s drew away from the old alley and handball ceased to be played there.

The new centre had an enclosed 40ft. by 20 ft. court. This was used by handballers but with no club structure it never really took off. Then the community centre courts became squash and racketball courts before they were eventually utilised for other purposes.

By 2008 Junior Griffin was the only surviving trustee of the old handball club. No committee had been formed for years. Junior took advice from former members and from solicitors. He decided to sign over the alley ground, which was purchased by the handball committee in 1962 to the safe keeping of Listowel Town Council. One proviso in the deal was that if ever a handball club was formed in the future, the council would facilitate that club in building a new handball alley.

We are very grateful to Junior for preserving and sharing all of this valuable information about the story of handball in Listowel.

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Many handballers spoke to Caoimhe Coburn Gray for her Coiscéim project. If you are interested in handball at all, especially if, like Michael Enright, it was a big part of your life, you will love reading and hearing handball stories from around the country. You will be struck by the similarities, e.g. Sunday was the big day. Nobody taught you how to play handball. You observed and learned. Rivalries developed into life long friendships.

“Now we’ve two buildings in Ireland that are vernacular to Ireland you will not find them anywhere else – the round tower and the handball alley!”

Here is the link to the marvellous Coiscéim project

Handball Memories, in your own words

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