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Tag: McKennas Page 1 of 4

Remembering the Convent

McKenna’s Corner Aug 2023


Lixnaw Carnival Queen

Listowel’s own Betty Stack was once Lixnaw’s Carnival Queen


Presentation Convent, Listowel

Margaret McGrath was remembering her beloved sister, Betty and her dear aunt Sr. Gemma and she sent us these memories of the convent.

Some teachers from the secondary school who went to say goodbye to the sisters before the convent closed.


An Official Guide to Listowel

In the 1960s Listowel UDC brought out an official guide to the town. Wolfgang Mertens purchased a copy when he came to town to attend Writers’ Week 1969. He kept his copy and now shares it with us.

God and Mammon

Listowel was well served with churches and banks.


The Canvas is ready

The nearby Mill Lane mural


Listowel Men Reunited at Wilco

Enjoying the concert on Saturday night were David Reen, Seán O’Sullivan, Gavin Buckley and Bobby Cogan, all with a Listowel connection.


A Fact

Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It has more than 13,000 islands.


Jim Sheahan R.I.P.

Beal Sunrise photo by Ita Hannon


What an Achievement!

Story and photograph from Kerry’s Eye

This is Mary Twomey with her haul of running medals. This year’s London marathon will add to her over 100 races so far. Mary ran her 100th marathon in Tralee recently with her proud family an attendance.


Jim Sheahan R.I.P.

Another good one gone.

The symbols of Jim’s life that were brought to the altar by his beloved grandchildren at his funeral mass on September 29th 2022 were a Kerry jersey, a tin whistle, a newspaper and a rosary beads. The cover photo on his funeral mass booklet was Jim in Croke Park. Gaelic games, music, keeping abreast of the news and helping where he could, and his faith, were, along with his family, the pillars of Jim Sheahan’s 88 years on this earth.

I was surprised to hear that Jim wasn’t by birth a Kerry man. He was born in Knocknagorna, Athea, Co. Limerick. He came to Kerry at age 12, when he transferred from the local national school to St. Michael’s. He stayed with his aunt, Kate Dee and her husband, Jerry.

Jim and Nora in Millstream House

Jim was very happy in this house in Greenville, Listowel  and it was in this holding that he lived up to the time of his death.

Jim was a hard worker. After school he went to work in Niall Stack’s furniture business and afterwards in McKenna’s. He also ran a small farm, milking up to 20 cows before he went to work in the morning. He worked too as a part time musician.

At McKenna’s social in 1962, Jim won the door prize. Here is is being presented with a portable transistor radio by Mrs. McKenna. Mr. Jack McKenna is also in the photo.

A few years ago I visited Jim and Nora in their hospitable home and Jim told me about the good old days of the dancehalls.

In Listowel in the 1940s and 50s, nighttime entertainment consisted of card games, small local dances and, during Lent, dramas and variety shows.

Jim learned the tin whistle and the fiddle from music teacher, Tim O’Sullivan at a shilling a lesson.

He had a great ear for music. Recognising his pupil’s talent, Tim suggested the saxaphone. Since he neither smoked nor drank Jim had plenty of lung capacity. He had found his preferred instrument. He was mostly self taught. He told me that the skills he had learned on the tin whistle transferred “easily” to the sax.

In one of those happy co incidences of timing, Jim Sheahan mastered the saxaphone at the very time the the big band was all the rage and Vincent Walshe was bringing a whole new style of dancehall entertainment to Listowel.

The Bunny Dalton Band in the Las Vegas ballroom, Listowel

Jim became a regular in the Las Vegas house band, led by Bunny Dalton. Jim told me that this band rivalled any big band in the land. He played with them for 5 or 6 years. Their signature tune was Glen Miller’s In the Mood.

Bunny Dalton and his band played the Las Vegas on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Occasionally, Vincent Walshe took his band to an all night dance in one of the small local halls run by enterprising families near by. Jim told me that these dancehalls were usually situated beside the owner’s  house and the band members were always treated to a great meal after the dance.

Around this time Jim met and married the love of his life, Nora Broderick of Coolnaleen.

Of all the teams he followed over the years, far and away the best team was the team of Jim and Nora. They were happily married for 58 years.

When he retired from McKenna’s, Jim joined Nora in running their guesthouse, Millstream House. They were cut out for this job. Nora is the best cook and baker and anyone who has sampled her hospitality will know that if you come as stranger, you will leave as a friend. Her repeat business is the stuff of legend.

Jim with John Lynch at a function in St. John’s

Jim was a born storyteller. He remembered that when he was a child, Paddy Drury, the wandering poet, used to come to his house and settle himself in an armchair for the night. Jim, himself, was a worthy successor to the seanchaithe of old and his family, as well as visitors to the house, loved to listen to him telling stories.

In Michael’s funeral tribute, we heard of Jim, the much loved family man. He used to song to entertain passengers in the car in the days before car radios and Spotify. He took his four sons far and wide to attend matches. He would usually stand in his preferred spot behind the goal. He loved simple things, Kerry football, Limerick hurling. He volunteered with the local Saint Vincent de Paul Society. In this way he was carrying on the generosity and kindness that he had learned as a child. He often left his young family on Christmas Day to deliver a meal to a less well off neighbour. 

Jim’s way was a quiet way, never making a fuss, never once raising his voice: the gentlest of gentlemen.

Jim was immensely proud of his very successful family and it was clear on the day of his funeral, Sept 29 2022, that they are immensely proud of him.

Life for Nora will never be the same again but Jim will watch over her and the lovely family they reared will be a consolation and support to her in the years to come.

Guím leaba i measc na naomh duit, a Jim. May you hear the music of the angels eternally.


A Few More from Ladies Day 2022



1956 Advertisement, The Land and an Old Pres. Photo

Photo: Breda Ferris


From Shannonside Annual of 1956


Once a Tidy Towner……

Breda McGrath is not fond of having her photo taken. So she didn’t pose but I snapped her doing her level best to make sure we win that gold medal again. Breda is just one of the many volunteers who work round the clock keeping Listowel looking beautiful.


A Very Strange Happening in 1842

Boston Pilot 9 July 1842

The Wandering Quakers. These silly fanatics arrived in Listowel from this town on Tuesday evening last, and formed their encampment in the extensive area in the rear of one of the houses in the square, under the shelter of which they sat in pious silence the greater part of the next day in expectation of obtaining followers, or at least hearers, and of being internally moved by the spirit to preach, sing or pray. Finding, however, after a great trial of their patience that, all their expectations were in vain, they rose and retired to Adam’s Hotel where they did justice to the good things of this carnal world, making atonement in the flesh for all that was wanting in the spirit. The next day the holy’ tribe set out on their peregrinations, after having excited the surprise and laughter of the good folks of Listowel. — Kerry Examiner.


Photo by Éamon ÓMurchú of farm implements at Newbridge House

The Land

John McGrath

I stand in fields where my forefathers stood once

And feel the dreams of those who’ve gone before me.

I tramp through damp and half-remembered pastures,

The folds and features of the land that bore me

All around.  Above the sound of lark’s song,

Below the spring of earth beneath my feet,

The green and gold of April in the hedgerow,

The purple haze where sky and heather meet.

Where mighty men have thought to mark their passing

The furze creeps back to mock the spade and plough,

Those futile epitaphs of generations

In Folk Museums condemned to moulder now.

Where men have raised a fence or tilled a furrow

The land, as if to scorn their simple gains,

Erases each proud trace until tomorrow.

The men have gone; the land alone remains.


A Passover Meal in Pres. Listowel

I could guess a few names but I’d probably be wrong so I’m hoping someone will help us out.


Some Listowel Shops, Presentation Day 2004 and some old friends

McKenna’s in June 2020


A  Few last Covid Signs Now no longer Necessary


Newly Painted Moloney’s and MK Beauty

Behan’s is having a facelift too.


Presentation Day in Pres. Secondary School 2004

School staff and visiting sisters in 2004


Gone from Our Streets

( Photos by Tom Fitzgerald)

John Joe McElligott R.I.P.

Martin Hickey R.I.P.

Kay Brady R.I.P.  Kay was as regular visitor to Listowel Writers week

Shop windows, Flowers at the Courthouse, Christmas Customs and A Christmas Craft Fair

Listowel Castle December 2019


Some Lovely Shopwindows

Listowel shopkeepers make a great effort with their window displays always.

Cheryl’s lovely crochet crib figures are on the NCBI window.


McKenna’s Winter Wonderland


Work at Listowel Courthouse courtyard

They look like flowerbeds in the making.


Christmas Cleaning from the Dúchas collection

The first job always seemed to be the cleaning and painting.

Christmas Customs

It is an old custom to clean up the house the week before Christmas, to white wash it and paint all the furniture. All the old people like to go to Tralee for the Christmas.

On St. Stephen’s day boys flock together and go around with the wren. They dress up in various kinds of clothes and get a dead wren and a bit of holly. They go from house to house and sing and play and dance. The people of the house give them some money and sometimes give them drink.

The old people put up holly around the windows and mantles for Christmas. On the Eve of each holiday candles are lighted through out the Christmas.


Christmas is a merry time for young and old. Five days before Christmas the people go to a town or village for their Christmas supplies.

The first sign of Christmas is the houses are whitewashed and the places cleaned. On Christmas Eve the candles


Mike’s Murals

Mike O’Donnell’s own photo of himself painting the old Kerryman masthead over the door of The Kerryman building


Listowel Tree 2019


Christmas Craft Fair

I never got round to posting these last week. This was the Christmas Craft Fair in Kerry Writers’ Museum with some lovely things to buy.

The heavenly Elle Marie ODwyer is a new face at Listowel craft fairs. I love her new song, Christmas by the Lee. Have a listen.

Our local historian, Vincent Carmody was there with his chronicles of old Listowel and old Newcastlewest

Anne and Katie’s snowmen and candy canes were very popular.

Frances O’Keeffe is the best knitter and knitting designer I know. Her cupcake dolls are a new addition to her range and they’re gorgeous. I also love this Rhode Island Red hen tea cozy.

This lady had beautiful large or small Christmas arrangements.

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