Rossbeigh, Co. Kerry

Photo: Chris Grayson


Christmas in Sarasota

If you remember, before Christmas I asked people to tell me where they were spending Christmas. Well!!!! the response was poor. So I am really grateful to the people who took the time to send me photos or greetings from far or near. The rest of you are on the naughty list.

Pat del Savio lives in Sarasota in Florida. She sent me these photos of Christmas in her part of the world, complete with ice skating rink, Santa’s sleigh  and light shows.

Sarasota is where the international rowing  competitions were held last year so the place will be familiar to the O’Donovan brothers. I dont think they follow the blog though.


Athea- the origins of the village

 This is how this lovely little Co. Limerick village looks nowadays. I make a point of taking all of my visitors to see it. I assure you it is worth travelling to see. It has the best public art of any small town in Ireland. It has a great fairy trail, some lovely garden centres, one with a pet farm, lots of history, great music, floral displays to rival any tidy town winner, a quiet river with ducks which are fed regularly, a lovely church and best of all, friendly welcoming people.

This mural in Athea tells much of the recent history and mythology of the village in graphic form.

It was not always such a peaceful place.

Recently the North Kerry blog outlined some of Athea’s troubled past. 

This account comes from The Kerry Reporter, August 12 1933

During the 17th and 18th centuries, and also
throughout the earlier part of the 19th, the district around Athea was very
different to what it is to-day. In these days many places that are now green fields were then
covered by treacherous bogs or marshes, while the roadways were for the most
part, beaten paths, that usually became more or less impassable in winter.

The prevailing desolation was somewhat
relieved by stretches of woodland here and there, where fir, spruce and oak
grew profusely. There exists authentic records that at an earlier period still,
these woods extended in one unbroken chain as far as Adare, and there is ample
evidence to be found today in the plentiful growth of timber which exists
around Ardagh, Rathkeale and Ballingran, that there is good grounds for this
belief.  The river Gale, which rises in
the Rooska hills and flows westwards through Athea, must have been a
considerably larger stream in those days, owing to the surrounding country not
being then drained, and it can be easily imagined that devastating floods must
have been of frequent occurrence.

When Cromwell marched through Ireland in
1649-50, with fire and sword, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, numbers
of fugitives found refuge from his barbarity in the Athea district! Owing to
the absence of roadways proper, the country about Athea was isolated to a great
extent during this period, and for a long time afterwards, so that it was only
with considerable difficulty the heavily armed and accoutred troopers could
manage to reach the place. For these reasons many of the inhabitants of the
place, as well as those who found refuge therein, succeeded in escaping the
general slaughter. Another factor which, no doubt, contributed to the safety of
the people living in that area at the time, was that the surrounding country
was too wild and unproductive, and the people themselves too poor, to tempt the
cupidity or rapacity of any of the regicide’s followers.

More tomorrow…..


Micko….the Listowel Connection

After last week’s great TV documentary on the legend that is Micko O’Dwyer, loads of other Micko stories are surfacing on the internet.

My favourite is this one which appeared on and it  concerns our own Pat Healy as told in his own words:


Listowel were playing in a Northleague final in Ballylongford back in the 80s and I had a stormer from wing-back.

Got about 3-3, and we won, beat Duagh. On the Monday we were down in Tim Kennelly’s pub, well on it, and Horse [Tim Kennelly] beckoned me over and said ‘You should be in with Kerry, someone should ring Dwyer about you’.

Of course, I was enthralled and before I gathered myself I was shoving 20 pence into the phone box out the back of the pub, ringing Waterville.

‘Mr O’Dwyer, it’s Pat Healy here from Listowel. We won a North Kerry final yesterday and Tim Kennelly suggested I give you a ring’. ‘About what?’, says Micko.

‘About myself, and maybe I should be on the Kerry team at this stage?’

‘And how did you get on?’, queries Dwyer.

‘Ah very good Micko. I got 3-3 storming forward from wingback, the lads here reckon I could do a job for Kerry’.

‘And who were ye playing?’

‘Duagh, Micko’.

‘Well I’ll tell you what’, growls Dwyer, ‘the next time Kerry are playing Duagh I’ll give you a call’, and the phone dies.

‘I went back into the bar and of course the whole lot of them were falling around the counter, bursting their holes laughing’.