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: Milltown

19th Century Kerry, Balls in Ballybunion and a pupil remembers his old teacher

Beautiful North Kerry

Photo: Mike Enright


To Hell or to …..Kerry

Kerry was a tough place to be in the nineteenth century. The
first On This Day story was shared by Jimmy Moloney and the account of the
Revenue man in Kerry was shared by Kay Caball from the Milltown and Castlemaine

OTD 1843: Death of
Arthur Blennerhassett (MP 1837-41) failed to become MP for Tralee in 1832 after
duel with his opponent Maurice O’Connell.


Ebenezer Turner, the Inland
Revenue officer, originally from Scotland who was resident in Milltown between
1869 and 1875, writes  his memoirs: Ebenezer Turner “Six Years in Ireland
– Part One”, The Venture, Vol. 6, pages 93-111 (Edinburgh, 1897)

 Milltown is a place of some 700 or 800
inhabitants, situated about 12 miles from the towns of Tralee and Killarney.
Its main street is not so wretched in appearance as in reality, being built of
stone and roofed with slate: at least one side of the street is so constructed.
These houses were built by an enterprising inhabitant[1]in the bad times of
1846-1848 when labour was paid for at the rate of sixpence a day. The back
parts of the village are composed of miserable hovels, built very roughly of
ill-shaped stones and poor lime; whitewashed sometimes and thatched with straw
or reeds. A low door admits the human and animal occupants; a tiny window or
two sometimes admits lights. There are of course degrees of wretchedness
according to the means and character of the inmates; but none of the houses
boast of any better flooring than the hard-beaten earth. A pig usually shared a
corner of the one room, fowl commonly perched on the rafters and frequently
room is made for a donkey, a goat, and, as I have seen, a cow.

The rules of the Revenue
Service require an officer to remain one year in a place before asking to move.
On reaching Milltown, in the middle of a blustering March day, travelling from
Killarney in a covered car like nothing so much as a small prison van, we thought
only of the time when we could request to be removed from so undesirable a
residence. For three weeks, we lodged at the so-called hotel where the landlord’s sister, intensely interested in
the unpacking of boxes, thought we could scarcely be properly married, because
my wife’s wedding dress was not or bright red, green or yellow silk.
Afterwards, we rented a portion of one of the before-mentioned houses, the
rooms of which we had to provide with locks, wall-paper and paint, and then had
the good fortune to succeed the Methodist Preacher in the occupancy of a
cottage with over a quarter of an Irish acre of garden. I should say that by this
time our ideas of removal had become modified. A few friendly families – two
especially – made us feel at home even amid such unaccustomed surroundings and
by the time the twelve months had expired we thought no more of an immediate


The Balls in Ballybunion

I nipped out to Ballybunion by the sea for a look at the controversial traffic control situation. In response to local demand for a measure to stop illegal parking on the streets in Ballyb, Kerry County Council installed these black balls at problem spots around the town. It’s a miracle that no one has tripped over them or damaged their vehicle. They are soon to be removed I’m told, so I photographed them before they disappear.

As a measure to prevent people parking on the yellow lines they obviously don’t work.

Bollards like these ones outside Sundaes was what was wanted.


Joe Murphy’s introduction to Pat Given’s October Stocktaking


Signs of Spring

Photo; Chris Grayson

Any day now paths in the town park will be bordered in yellow. I’m looking forward to it.

Dingle in April 2014 and Listowel Military Tattoo 2014


I enjoyed a lovely day out on the Dingle peninsula recently.

This friendly fellow we met at Slea Head.

Cycling was always a favoured means of transport for student and visitor alike.

I don’t know if the coin machine works. I did not hazard my money in it although I have done in the past. You put in a euro or two and you “mint” yourself a souvenir (worthless) coin.


 This piece of outdoor art is rather nice.

We met Róisín and Joan at The Halla in Ceann Trá. We helped them make somme clay pots.

 Our pots when fired would hold a candle and would be released from Milltown Bridge as part of Féile na Bealtaine.

A bit of humour is always welcome. This sign was at Dick Mack’s back door.

More humour, this time in Murphy’s Ice Cream shop. It was very busy on the day we visited. The staff were super friendly plying us all with free samples. We just had to have some more. I would recommend the sea salt.

This lovely lady was minding the Dingle Candle Shop for her sister in law. She has her own business, making lovely oil cloth bags. Her business is called Pins and Needles. I bought this bag. You’ll see me carrying it around town.

This knitted sheep farm caught my eye in a shop window.

I bought some really nice soap.

Onion sets, shallots and seed potatoes in a shop window in Dingle in April 2014.

Everywhere people were preparing for this:    Féile na Bealtaine


The best Fungi photo?

There are two people who photo Fungi regularly and post great images on Facebook at

Fungie Forever


Old photo

Fr Keane from Ballygrennan and Parish Priest in Newtownsandes

and Con Brosnan footballer and member of Free State Army


Some action from Listowel Town Square at the weekend.

On Saturday May 3 2014 we gathered in The Square to watch a re enactment of the taking of the French town of Caen during WW2.

The local Caen citizenry were hanging out, drinking wine and lounging in the sun.

Suddenly, German soldiers arrived and took over the town.

A fierce battle ensued.

Local people were arrested.

The soldiers frog marched the local prisoners off to be executed the next day.


It was a great lesson in history for all of us present, particularly the young people.

I photographed the real French people in my family with one of the “fake” French people who were taking part in the re enactment. 

Why are they laughing?

He did not understand a word of French.


Haiku for our times

Along Emmet Road
politicians’ promises
blow like plastic bags.

– Michael Hartnett (Inchicore Haiku, No. 55)


Irish TV

A new channel especially for the diaspora. Listen to the story from Batt Burns if you like an innocent old fashioned Seanchaí type tall tale.

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