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

Tag: Mike Sheehy

Ballinagare, St. Patrick’s Day, The Square in 2005 and some Memories and another Covid Cartoon

Ballinagare near Ballyduff in May 2020

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Football Memories from 1959

The late Michael Sheehy grew up in Main Street, one of a family of very talented brothers. He sent us this a few years before he died. I’m sharing it again now, especially for the cocooners.

I remember the town league as if it was yesterday. What great games between the different streets!

I remember playing with The Ashes around 1960 and the Ashes winning. I still have the medal but it says 1957 which would have made me 12.

We had guys like the McMahons, Toddy Enright, Junior & Bert Griffin, Frank Murray etc.  What great times they were just to have the bragging rights for a year.   Now as I think of the places that made up the “Ashes” I doubt if you could field a team. How sad it is. Now as I think in the Small Square the only person to live there over the last many years was Mrs. Scully.r.i.p. Everyone else closed their business and lives somewhere else.


An Old St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Don’t know the year. If you recognise yourself let me know.


Troubled times


The Square 2005


Old Railway Bridge on Ballybunion Road in May 2020


Mike O’Donnell at his Most Incisive

Mike captioned this “Boris paints coffins blue in support of healthcare workers” . The tide has turned against the British government which is now presiding over Europe’s most catastrophic Covid 19 pandemic tragedy.


Darkness into Light 2020

The usual big walk through darkened towns did not go ahead this year but many still found a way of “walking” into the light.


Thunderstorm in Lyreacrompane

Story and pictures from Joe Harrington on Facebook.

Saturday May 10 2020 was the hottest day so far this year.

Joe Harrington recorded record high temperatures at his glasshouse in Lyre.

Then this happened.

Lightening hit the power pole in The Glen  near the old schoolhouse.

Within the hour help was at hand.  ESB Networks removed the damaged pole and erected a new one.

Power was restored to this little piece of Heaven in The Kingdom.

Ballybunion, The Horsefair and Progress on the extension to Listowel Community Centre

Beautiful North Kerry

Photo: Mike Enright


All the Fun of the Fair

The Horsefair is a big event in the life of Listowel and many people have written about it and photographed and painted the fairs. Here I bring you a few photos from fairs through the years and an account of the January Fair 2017 by Billy Keane.

The man selling the manic Indian
Runner ducks and the pointy- beaked, big red hens came all the way from Macroom
to the horse fair in Listowel. There were goats, too, and puppies, horses and
ponies, a llama called Larry and donkeys with sad eyes. Noah must have left the
gate open.


The street was
thronged and I had forgotten all about the day that was in it. The custom is to
hold four horse fairs in our town on the first Thursday of each quarter. No one
knows exactly how long the horse fair has been going on here in Market Street. Hundreds
of years, I would say. There’s a story going that Napoleon’s horse Marengo was
bred in a field down by the River Feale. He was sold at Listowel Horse Fair and
again at the great fair of Cahirmee to the French.

My mother and father opened up our
pub 63 years ago on the day of the January horse fair. It was their first
wedding anniversary. They had no money and the pub was very busy, which gave
them a great start.

Gerard O’ Leary’s family own a
poultry operation in Macroom and he travels all over Ireland with laying hens.
It seems to be a big thing now for townies to keep a hen or two for the eggs.

I was wrong about the ducks. They
are placid enough, Ger says. There wasn’t a quack out of them. It was just the
insane eyes that scared me, and one duck kept staring at me like she was a
witch in disguise. I woke up later that night after a terrible dream. There was
the Indian Runner sitting at the end of the bed, staring away. I jumped out of
the bed, but she was gone. As my old friend Frank Galvin used to say, she was a
hollocollution – Frank’s word for hallucination. It was then I got to thinking
the duck with the stare might have picked up a bad scent from me. I checked the
pillow and it was full of feathers.

The Indian Runner ducks are
teachers. Says Ger: “Ducks are like sheep in that they stay in tight
groups. The ducks are used to train young collies who aren’t able for the big

We meet a crude man with a few
drinks in him, who told us he’s gone from the wife. “She’s too old to
breed,” he says, “and too wicked to keep as a pet.”

“You can’t say that,” I

“I can say whatever I
want,” says he.

There were just a few donkeys at
the horse fair. A few years back during the boom, a dealer told me he was
getting a grand a donkey but now the donkey sanctuaries are full again. I
always felt very sorry for the donkeys. There’s an old, faded holy picture
hanging up over the place I’m writing in right now. The little donkey has bony
legs as thin and knobbly as rosary beads. He’s carrying the Holy Family across
the desert and on to safety.

I think the happiest moment of my
life was when I was being returned to the mother and father after a lovely
adventurous month in the country with our cousins, the Looneys. Bill Looney let
me drive the donkey and car down Church Street. My friends saw me and I shook
the reins to get the donkey flying as we galloped on at full speed. I was the
proud boy.

Miley Cash is the main man at the
horse fair. His big white lorry was parked along the street. Several horses
were tied to the side of the lorry. He says: “I bought those ones at
Kilmichael, where the ambush took place and another at Doneraile. I’ll be
calling to Tipperary on the way home to Monasterevin to pick up another

Miley is a broad, blocky man. You
couldn’t put an age on him, but he told me he has been coming here to Listowel
for more than 60 years.

He is here to support the fair and
the way of life for the people who come here.

“Do you see that man over
there with the pony?”

An old man holds his pony on
display. The dappled brown and white pony looks like he could easily pass for
an Apache’s mount in a cowboy picture.

“Well”, continues Miley,
“he bought her for €1,100 and he kept her for year. Now he’ll sell her for
the same money. There’s no money in this for these people. He put new shoes on
her and had her clipped and tagged. The horse people never count the expenses
when they figure out the buying and selling. They love the idea of having a
horse. He sold him to me for €1,100 and there was a tenner luck.”

Several pony men parade their stock
nonchalantly by Miley, as if they were taking the ponies for a walk and the
walk happened to pass the dealer. Miley gives the parade no more than a glance.
That’s all he needs. The Cashes were reared to this game. He sells his purchases
on to Germany, Holland and France.

Just then, a small Traveller boy
walks past us with a Shetland. The kid can’t be any more than seven or eight.
And isn’t he the proud boy. The Travelling people are at their happiest on days
like this. Horses are in their blood.

This man approaches Miley and he’s
whispering. There’s a lot of whispering going on at horse fairs. I listen in.
“Don’t tell him you know me,” says the pony whisperer.

What was it all about? Your guess
is as good as mine, but somehow you feel that horse fair people wouldn’t be
happy unless there was a bit of bargaining to be done, with plenty of
subterfuge and walking away in a huff if the price isn’t right. No different to
trade unions and employers, if you think about it.

The-nephew-and-uncle team of Johhny
Cahill and Daniel Riordan are selling an unbroken Welsh pony and a Stewball,
which is another breed of blocky pony.

“How much will ye get?”

Uncle Johnny whispers: “About
300 for the Skewball. And 150 for the pony.”

The two have a lovely way with the
horses and each other. The Welsh pony rears up and Daniel leads off to walk the
friskiness off of her. Walks him past Miley, that is. “She’s a nice
cob,” says Johnny. Miley nods, but no more than that. The bargaining
pre-play sets up the process.

I couldn’t see any sign of
mistreatment or of neglect at the horse fair. There have been problems with
animal welfare at other fairs. But the majority are in love with the idea of
owning a horse, donkey or a pony. The tourists love the tangling, the vibrancy
and the colour of it all. This is a tradition worth keeping.

I went back then, after a long
walkabout among the pony people, to open up the pub for year 64.

Irish Independent


Progress on the Extension to Listowel Community Centre


Humans of Listowel

I met Mike Sheehy and Leo Daly out for a morning walk in the town park

Two from the Kerryman

In case you missed these;


Wednesday November 02 2011

NORTH Kerry was a dream posting according to a Cork native garda sergeant on his recent retirement.

Sergeant Mike Sheehy told The Kerryman that the people of North Kerry and his colleagues on the force in the region made life a pleasure for the best part of his 33 years on the job there.

A native of Tullylease outside Kanturk, Sgt Sheehy was delighted when first posted to the Listowel area all those years ago. “I was thrilled as I wasn’t a million miles from home and I had always loved Listowel and North Kerry with the races and Ballybunion growing up.

“A brother of mine was posted to Hackball’s Cross in Louth, where he still serves, and he said he was making up for me getting so close to home!” Compared with his brother’s posting, North Kerry made it much easier for community-style policing.

“It was far from a holiday camp but you’d think we were working in different countries, particularly through the worst of the 80s troubles. I was much more engaged in community and social work here and I loved building up a relationship with the people of the area.

“99 per cent of work was social based, it is only a very small percentage of people who cause the problems. That being said, the job was like a magnified version of life. You would go from tragedy to good fun with all the gradings of life in between.”

The highlight of his career, however, was of a more personal nature. “I was diagnosed with cancer about eight years ago and my doctors recommended I give up the job. But the people of North Kerry and my colleagues really helped me cope with it. They were amazing and it’s only when you’re in trouble you realise how lucky you are in that sense.”

His Cork blood however made for very conflicting times in recent years when Kerry footballer Tom O’sullivan came to be posted with him in Moyvane. “It has become even more conflicting as a Cork man as I went to the All-ireland this year to support Tom. He is an absolute gent and he’ll have to look after Moyvane on his own now as I’m irreplacable as I said to him!”

Sgt Sheehy’s retirement was marked by the Moyvane community with a night in his honour recently and his colleagues are organising a night in the Listowel Arms for November 11 next.




Network generates € 250k of business



Wednesday November 09 2011

A NORTH Kerry business network has generated close to a quarter of a million euro in business for its 20 local members since its formation just eight months ago.

The Listowel Excel Business Network, a branch of the renowned Business Network International franchise, announced details of its impressive performance at a showcase event in Listowel on Monday night.

The group, which was formed in March, is made up of 20 businesses from Listowel and north Kerry, all of whom actively promote and refer each other for work. Group member Brian Scanlon explained that the aim of the Listowel Excel Business Network is to generate business for each other in what is a very tough economic climate.

“It’s based on the premise of referring work to each other within the group and pass on possible leads that will generate work,” Mr Scanlon explained. “We then record all those referrals and by doing that we can gauge how successful we have been. Since we got together in March, we have generated €250,000 worth of business which is quite good given that we only formed eight months ago.

Mr Scanlon explained that the range of businesses within the group is far reaching, and currently features such services as a printer, accountant, solicitors firm, physiotherapist, builder, financial advisor, graphic designer, web development company and refuse collection company to name some.

“The group is open to any type of business but there is a vetting process as we are very mindful that our members are reputable, quality business people,” he said. “It is also restricted to one person per profession to avoid any conflict of interest.”

Anyone interested in joining the group can come along to their weekly meetings at the Listowel Arms Hotel each Tuesday morning at 7am or contact Brian on 087 2396085.

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