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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Lovely Listowel, A Pharmacy on the Move and Repairs to St. John’s Steeple

“Oh, would some Power the giftie gie us

To see ourselves as others see us….”

Éamon ÓMurchú was home in Listowel and he took a few photos with his phone. The photos show us Listowel as it is these days, lovely as always but undergoing change. This one shows the unchanging River Feale in all its magnificence.


Different Times

In June 1950 Fine Gael T.D. Captain Patrick Giles told the Dáil that “only big swanks with money to burn” could buy tomatoes. (Irish Examiner)


On the Move

Broderick’s Pharmacy is relocating to Market Street.


Kathy Hochul is New York governor

John Anthony Hegarty sent the picture and Kay Caball provides the story of the Kerry connection. Below is the link to Kay’s account of the governor’s Cournane/ Courtney ancestors. It is well worth a read.

Kerry Ancestors/ N.Y. Governor


Scaffolding Everywhere

The scaffold at St. John’s has reached the top of the spire.

Máire tells us that the clock face is down for repair.

This reminded me of a story Junior Griffin told me.

Here is is again.

John Griffin of Bridge Road was the local expert watch repairer. Archdeacon Wallace approached him to ask if he would repair the St. John’s clock.

St. John’s was then a functioning protestant church.

In the 1940s it was forbidden for a Catholic to enter a Protestant church. Mending the clock, however, would not involve entering the church as there was no access to the clock from the church. To solve this problem John Griffin constructed a kind of primitive cherry picker. This contraption was a kind of cage that he would enter on the ground and using pulleys and ropes he would hoist himself up to the clock in order to access the movement of the clock.

John Griffin of Bridge Road, Junior’s dad

Junior’s mother was worried sick that some harm might come to her husband in this makeshift hoist so she sent Bert and Junior to the Catholic church to light candles and to pray that no harm would come to their dad.


A Sobering Fact

In April 1954 Michael Manning was the last person to be executed by the state. He was convicted of murdering a nurse, Catherine Cooper.

(Irish Examiner)


We’re all Mayo Supporters now

Éamon ÓMurchú took this photo on his Wild Atlantic Way trip.

I think we’ll be seeing a few posters like this in Kerry now.


Bank of Ireland, a Match Programme, a poem and a warning to returning exiles

Bank of Ireland, The Square, Listowel in October 2017


Alice Taylor Poem


A Rare National Treasure

This is a match programme from when Mayo last won the All Ireland Football.


John B. Keane [poem engraved in The Square]


Braying Stag in Killarney National Park October 2017

Photo: Jim McSweeney


Returning “home’ after Years in Exile

It’s not all a bed of roses for returning emigrants. 300,000 people left Ireland out of necessity in the 1990s. Now some of them want to come home.  Here are a few quotes from people who addressed a recent webinar on the difficulties of coming home to Ireland.   Source: Irish Central

“Make sure the reason you move home is not just sentimentality,” said Siobhan Gibney, who moved home to Co Mayo after 26 years in Australia.

“People should stop and think carefully before making the decision to move home. It’s a terrible thing to live a life of regrets, but Ireland changes. Life is about opening new chapters. We have been lucky to settle in Westport and I feel like a bit of a fraud to be at this conference, because my experience of moving home has been mostly positive.”

Yvonne Tierney, who moved home to Galway after almost 20 years in Chicago, said it had been extremely challenging to deal with officials who expected her to have Irish documentation.

“Both my partner and I had drivers’ licenses for over 15 years in Chicago,” she said. “Yet we couldn’t transfer our licenses over and we haven’t even been able to get quotes for car insurance. Our job qualifications did not transfer over, either, because both of us qualified in America.”

Rita Feeney, a teacher who returned from Dubai, said the only information she received about returning home came from a Facebook page. She had been teaching in the UAE for over ten years, but found that her experience was not deemed fully relevant in Ireland.

“For me, Ireland is not appealing right now,” she said. “Family and friends are the only reason I am home. I am not teaching at the moment. I am in a factory and I hate it. It’s good to be home, I have no regrets, but I do want to take off again. I do wish this country would make it more attractive for us to come back.”

Julia Scully, who has just moved home after 20 years in Seattle, said she was overwhelmed by the paperwork she has faced since she returned to Ireland.

“It has been tough. I just feel it’s very, very difficult to get going here. It’s difficult to have to take 12 driving lessons when I have been driving for over 20 years in the US. Sometimes I feel like packing everything up and just moving back to Seattle,” she told the conference.



not quite from the horse’s mouth but from an eye witness

Hi Mary, with regards to the old building behind the Garda Barracks, as a child, I always assumed it was used for servicing the police cars, as there was a huge oblong shaped hole in the floor, like a pit that you see in garages. Many happy memories of playing in there with the sergeants daughter, Mary Sheppard and friends, happy days. Regards, Rose Sheehan, ( nee Shine of Colbert Street).

(Thank you Rose)


60 Years Ago

Sixty years ago tonight: Lennon (17) & McCartney (15) on stage together for first time. The Quarry Men on Broadway … Norris Green, Liverpool

Photo and caption from Twitter

Artistic Graffiti at the Ball Alley and Vincent Carmody’s Race week enterprises in the 1950s

Chris Grayson was on the Dingle peninsula.


The Ball Alley

A few years ago, as a project during Listowel Writers’ Week, the young people of Existance Youth Café, helped and supported by Listowel Tidy Towns’ Committee, painted some artistic graffiti on the walls of the old ball alley. Recently I noticed that the end wall has been painted over. I hope whoever painted it won’t paint over any more of it, because it is lovely. 


Twin Concerns this week; a Mayo football Jersey and a jockey’s silks in the window at Harnett’s


Home is the Hero

Photo; Darren Frehill on Twitter

Real heroes have time for their fans.


More Race Week Memories from Vincent Carmody

Overview photo of the racecourse by Pat Healy

Apart from the fine
fresh air and friendship that you will have in abundance at the races, the only
other thing free for the week is the free draw each day, entry forms to be
found on the day’s race card.

Race card kiosks are
located in several areas of the enclosure.

In my previous lookback,
I mentioned Paul Kennelly of Woodford.  He
used to be assisted in putting up the decorations by several of his sons. One
by one over time, they emigrated to seek their fortunes in England. Like many
before them, they worked hard and prospered. Murt, having done well, decided to
become a racehorse owner. Among the horses that he owned was Bregawn. In 1983
Murt achieved what most owners and trainers would only dream of, by winning the
Gold Cup in Cheltenham. It could not happen to a nicer man and family.

The weekend prior to
the races would see an influx of returning emigrants arriving at the Railway
Station. The Races was the one time of the year where anyone away would make an
big effort to return back to town and meet up with old friends.


Tuesday used be
the first day of the three day meeting. Many lads, like myself, would be down
early outside the Race Company Office in the Square; our mission, to collect
race cards for the day. This was another money making project for us young
fellows. Each card would be sold for one old shilling and we would take three
old pence for each one sold. On getting the cards, a bee line would then be
made to the Railway Station, where each race day morning at least four packed “specials”
would arrive.  It used be like London’s
Euston station. We used work in teams of three, with one always ready to cycle
down to the Square to get fresh supplies.

Here we were also
introduced for the first time to the Dublin fruit and sweet sellers. We used to
call them the Molly Malones. Afterwards we got used to their cry, “apples,
pears and ripe bananas!”.

Any cards we had left
after the railway station would be sold around the streets.

One year I decided to
go into business on my own, running a bicycle park. A bike would have been the
most common form of transport for a lot of country men in the mid 1950s. Each
day of the races from mid-morning droves of country men from the northern end
of the county would come down the Ballylongford Road to the town. By taking up
a position on top of the bridge I could easily canvas likely contenders who
would have dismounted and walked up the far side and who wanted their bike
parked safely for the day. Having secured a customer, I would take him down to
our yard, give him a ticket, get paid and then rush back up to the bridge
again. By early afternoon customers would have dried up so it was then off over
to The Island.

Our racedays were
spent like most others out in the field opposite the stand. Not like today,
where the field is used as a carpark, it was in those days similar to the
opposite enclosure, albeit without a stand. 
It had  bookies, bars, Tote and every other facility, even
including swinging boats. Evening time offered the magic of the market, and for
the week the cinemas would run a second film showing. 

Back to the bicycle
park. The less said about the bicycle park the better. Having got my sister to
help out in the early part of the evening, I then had to take up duty. On that
particular night it was after five in the morning before the last bike was
claimed. My mother and father said they had no sleep with all the comings and
goings, so that finished that idea.

A friend, Dr. Philip O
Carroll, now domiciled in Newport Beach in California, reminded me of Bryan McMahon’s
classic Listowel ballad, ‘Lovely Listowel’ first printed by Bob Cuthbertson and
sold on an original penny ballad sheet. I have a copy and I would like to share
it with all of those Listowel people around the world who could not join us
this year.

Oh, Puck may be famous
and Galway be grand,

And the praise of
Tramore echo down through the land,

But I’ll sing you a
ballad and beauty extol,

As I found it long ‘
go in the Town of Listowel.

I’ve been to Bundoran,
I’ve rambled to Bray,

I’ve footed to Bantry
with it’s beautiful bay,

But I’d barter their
charms, I would, pon my soul,

For the week of the
Races in Lovely Listowel.

There were Bookies and
Bagmen and Bankers and all,

Biddy Mulligan was
there with a green-coloured shawl,

And a cute little boy
pitching pence in a bowl,

Took me down for a
crown in the Town of Listowel.

The Hawkers were
kissing and bleeding as well,

We had Hoop-La and
Loop-La and the ‘oul Bagatelle,

And silver-tongued
gents sure I’d bet they’d cajole,

A pound from a miser
in the Town of Listowel.

Beyond on the course
there was silk flashing past, 

The unfortunate nag
that I backed he was last,

When he ran the wrong
way sure I lost my control,

And I prayed for the
trainer and Lovely Listowel.

Oh night time, how are
you-the night sure ’twas day,

And the stars in the
sky sure they looked down in dismay,

And they sez to the
moon then in accents so droll,

‘You’re done, for the
sun shines to-night in Listowel’

And you’d travel the
land to see maidens so rare,

With buckles and
pearls and grace I declare,

In my troubles and
toils there is one can console,

she’s a wife, be me
life, from the Town of Listowel.

My rhyming is over,
God bless those who heard,

For I’ll take to the
roads and go off like a bird,

And before I depart
well you all must pay toll,

So three cheers for
the Races and Lovely Listowel.



Last year on the Saturday of race week, Owen MacMahon gave an impromptu blast of his father’s famous ballad. He was helped by fellow “well dressed men” at Listowel’s Tidy Town’s Vintage Day.

Here it is


Races 2017

It’s still a bit blustery on The Island. The weather is set to improve though.

John Kelliher  some  great photos.

That Dublin Mayo Match, Hugh O’Flaherty Garden, The Ashes in 1960 and The Land War in Munster in 1886

It’s Conker Season


I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day

Fr. Vincent Sherlock, a Mayo priest, posted a great sermon on his website after his team’s heartbreaking defeat to Dublin last Saturday. I’m just reproducing a section of it here but you can read the full post at the link below;

The photos shows Andy Moran lying on the grass of Croke Park and his daughter sits on one of his outstretched legs.There’s something healing in that photo – something that says the Metal of Sam Maguire may be sought after but it’s cold comfort when compared with the flesh and blood you shaped, nurtured and nourish. The little girl sits with one who is not judged on which side he was on at the sounding of the final whistle but on one who is her “father”, provider and one who loves her unconditionally. The love is likewise returned. She is undoubtedly more crucial and cherished than a cup to be passed from hand to hand, team to team, year to year. In this child, in this picture, is life and all that is meaningful therein.

The second photo is of Bernard Brogan of Dublin reaching out to place his open hand on the top of the little girl’s head. Andy is now standing, smiling as he watches this gesture. To me, the Dublin man is saying “be proud, very proud of your father. I’ve given everything I have over the last seventy and more minutes to hold him back, to beat his team but you have a father to be proud of there.” I’d like to think that somewhere deep within, he might even feel a tinge of regret for Andy and his teammates but more than that, it’s a gesture that says when the game is over, life goes on and must be cherished. It’s moment that speaks of a respect between players, even when on opposite teams, maybe especially when on opposite teams.


Hugh Flaherty Memorial Garden, Tralee

This is a lovely memorial to the great man, Hugh O’Flaherty. It is situated at a very busy corner in Tralee. It is beside what I have heard described as a Kerry roundabout, you know the ones that everyone drives over rather than around. This roundabout is on the way to the Bon Secours hospital or the turn off for West Kerry.


Down Memory Lane with The Advertiser


 Stories in the Papers of The Land League in Munster   in 1886

Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 1886


The Dublin correspondent of the Times writes :
A gentleman who has been obliged to employ emergency men sent 23 or 24 cattle
into the  fair near Tralee a few days ago. They were of good quality, and
were sold without difficulty to a stranger. A local butcher, however, who saw
the  sale, got up on a bale, and, addressing the people, said the cattle
were  boycotted. The bargain was immediately broken off. The same butcher
lately took a farm on the seashore where the people  had been in the habit
of drawing seaweed, and his consistent patriotism has been shown in his refusal
to allow them to take any more  weed. 

Examples of this kind might be
multiplied by the score in every part of the  country where the League is
dominant. Its power is not exercised against landlords alone. It is now dictating
terms to the banks, and threatening to boycott them if they do not obey its

It was recently attempted in Listowel, in Kerry, in which a farmer who

borrowed from the  bank was pressed for
payment. He  complained to the local league that the bank demanded to be paid
in full, and it appears, from a report in the Kerry Sentinel of a
meeting,  which Mr. Sheehan, M.P., and Mr. Stack, M.P., were present, that
a deputation, to be headed by ‘Father Pat,’ was appointed to wait on the
manager and offer him one-half  his  debt. The result of this view is not yet known, but the  bank must borrow. 

No man can deal with his
workmen, his caretaker, or his servant as he  thinks fit. If they are
members of the League they can defy him. If he displeases the  League his
servants will be ordered to leave his employment, and he must submit or take  the consequences. There is nothing to mitigate or counteract the
tyrannical and treasonable influence of the League.

An extraordinary incident occurred in
connection with the meet of the County Limerick hounds at Rockhill, near
Bruree. There was a large meeting of horsemen, but before the hunt commenced
the Rev. Mr. Sheehy, of Bruree, who was arrested during the land agitation,
attended, accompanied by a large  gathering of the country people. The  Rev. gentleman went to Mr. John Gubbins, the master of the hunt, and
asked if he was prepared to settle with his tenants. Mr. Gubbins replied that
he had offered his tenants a reduction of 25 per cent. The Rev. Mr. Sheehy
re-joined that what was required was a permanent settlement. As a result of the
interview, Mr. Gubbins refused to be dictated to, and said he was not prepared
to refer the dispute to arbitration. The Rev. Mr. Sheehy threatened that until
Mr. Gubbins settled with his tenants  hunting would not be
permitted.  The crowd who backed up Father Sheehy cheered him
enthusiastically and  made  it was evident from their aggressive demeanour
that they would have offered violence if Mr. Gubbins had persevered’ in the
hunt. Some of the dogs were beaten off, and Mr. Gubbins, seeing the state of
feeling shown, wisely decided to return home.

 A man named Ryan, who had bought turf
from a boycotted farmer, was pursued into the chapel where he went to attend
Mass by an excited crowd, and had to seek the protection of the parish priest
from the violence of the  people. Before  leaving, the man promised
to return the turf on the following day to the obnoxious farmer, and the
neighbours accordingly attended for the purpose at the man’s residence to see
him carry out his promise. The turf was then stacked in a wagon, and  led
the horse in the direction of Mr. Griffin’s, the boycotted farmer’s house,
about a mile distant. The crowd, which numbered several  hundred, followed
the wagon. In passing through the  village of New Pallas, the procession
was further swelled by the  villagers and constabulary———–. On the
procession reaching Mr. Griffin’s  house, they found himself and his three
sons armed with guns and prepared to resist the return of the turf; but on the
police interfering with regard to the threatened use of the firearms, the
 Messrs. Griffin quickly allowed the turf to be placed in the yard,  amid
cheers from the throng.


Listowel Ladies RFC

(Photo; Listowel RFC on Facebook)

These ladies, members of Listowel Rugby Club, played on the Munster team who lost to Ulster on Saturday last Oct. 1 2016

And the winner is………

Photo of a Happy Man

Kieran Moloney of Listowel Tidy Towns Committee with the Best Small Town Trophy which has only once before been won by any town on two occasions.

John Kelliher’s marvellous image of our beloved small town.


Listowel Tidy Towns Vintage Day 2016…. My Part in it

This is the line up of finalists in Listowel Tidy Towns Vintage, Upcycle and Recycle’s Fashion event at Listowel Races 2016.

The competition was judged by Orlagh Winters and a representative from An Taisce. The lady in red on the far left was the winner. Niamh Kenny, second from right came third and Helen Culhane on the far right was a finalist

But the lady in blue is the cailín in whom I had a special interest. She is Mary Moylan and she was wearing the suit I wore as a “going away outfit” on my wedding day in July 1975.

This is me going away. You can see my bouquet in my hand as I was about to throw it, as per age old tradition, to the unmarried girls who were guests at the wedding. The photo was taken outside the Deerpark Hotel in Charleville. That is the back of my late mother’s head in the foreground.

This is an old ad for Dorene. My dress and jacket were made by Dorene.

It was purchased in Todds of Limerick.  (photos from the internet)

You will agree that the outfit withstood the ravages of time better than its owner.

I am known in my family as a hoarder but my brother claims that keeping a suit that doesn’t fit me for over 40 years is a step too far even for me.

Mary with her sister, Alice.

Mary with her friend, Aoife, who provided the hat to complete the look. Mary’s jewellery was her grandmothers and her bag was originally her mother’s.

Kieran Moloney of Listowel Tidy Town’s chatting to one of the sponsors.

Mary won a hamper of goodies and a voucher for a Listowel shop. Listowel business people are really supportive of this competition and the prizes were substantial.

(Mary looked after me well too)

As well as the beautiful bouquet, she treated me to a delicious dinner which she cooked herself.

I’ll be rummaging in back of the wardrobe again for next year!

Mary’s interview with Orlagh Winters is here;

Mary Moylan interviewed by Orlagh Winters


Only in the USA.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election this November, we will witness history being made.

If Hillary Clinton wins the U.S. presidential election, it will be the first time in history that two U.S. presidents have slept with each other!

If Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election, it will be the first time in history that a billionaire moves into public housing vacated by a black family.


This sign is proudly displayed on my Mayo neighbour’s wall. I hope he has something to cheer about very soon.

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