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


Saturday Supplement, Ballyeigh, NCBI fundraiser and Global Pandemics

Photo; Vincent Higgins, Mallow Camera Club


Saturday Supplement

This photo was taken outside Jet Carroll’s a few years ago. In it Frank Lewis is interviewing Vincent Carmody for his programme Saturday Supplement on Radio Kerry.

Frank plans to come again in May to record a programme on 50 years of Listowel Writers’ Week


2013 NCBI Cake Sale

This photo was taken in the Mermaids. These kind ladies were all volunteers at the NCBI charity shop and they held a cake sale to raise extra funds.


Covid 19

I am relying heavily on archive material these days as there is not much happening in town while we are on semi lock down due to the pandemic of Covid 19.

Vincents in Upper William Street, Listowel

I am going to share with you what I’ve learned about previous pandemics while I’ve been cooped up .

Spanish Flu spread like wildfire during the last year of the war, 1918. It killed more people than were killed in war, 50 million worldwide and 23,000 in Ireland alone.

TB or consumption was a very contagious respiratory illness which killed 10,000 Irish people in 1916 alone. It continued to ravage Ireland for most of the 20th century, until effective drug treatments and isolation hospitalisation brought it under control.

HIV/Aids was the dread of the 1980s when there were very poor prospects for people contracting this disease. To date over 9,000 people in Ireland have been diagnosed with Aids. Today, advances in drug treatment means that it is no longer a death sentence.

Sars killed 800 people in more than a dozen countries in 2003. Ireland had only one case.

Swine Flu was the pandemic of 2009. 27 people died in Ireland and half a million worldwide. A vaccine is now available.

Seasonal influenza comes our way every winter. while it is a serious illness, most vulnerable people protect themselves by vaccination.

The biggest difference between Covid 19 and previous pandemics is that it is very easily spread and, in a small but vulnerable cohort in the community it causes very severe respiratory problems.

As yet we have no vaccine or antidote.


Listowel March 16 2020

I was out around 10.00a.m. and I  had the town to myself, almost.


The Ballyeagh Fight

In Ireland in the 19th century fighting was a favourite sport. Good fighters were heroes in the neighbourhood. Local fights between rival families were looked forward to and talked about afterwards much as football matches are today.

The father and mother of all fights took place on Ballyeagh Strand near Ballybunion in 1834. It was a bloody battle, fought with viciousness by men and women. It became the stuff of legend. Below is an account from the Dúchas Schools’ Folklore Collection

In June 1834 the Ballyeagh Fight took place on the White Strand Ballyeagh. It was one of the many faction fights of the time. At that time races would be held on the strand at low tide. Great numbers attended the meeting and tents lined the bank of the river on the Ballyeagh side – there is no strand at the other side. The factions engaged in this fight were the Lawlors principally from the Beal side and the Coolleens principally from the Ballyconry and Cashen side.

Evidently this was no sudden outburst for the parties were preparing for days before hand and came to the strand in military formation the Coolleens on horseback. Hacket and Aherne lead the Coolleens. They brought cart loads of stone to use in the fight. A little hay or straw was thrown over the stones and the women sat on top to allay suspicion.

Rev Father Buckley PP of Ballybunion met them a short distance from the strand and asked them to go home but they refused. Then he asked them to keep the peace and not spill blood but they told him they would.not return till they had defeated the Lawlors.

At the outset they chased the Lawlors towards the mouth of the River using the stones they brought with them.

When the Coolleens had used up the stones the Lawlors turned and using the stones strewn on the strand, hurleys and cudgels of all description routed the enemy. The women also joined in the fight filling their stockings with stones. The Coolleens made for the boats but the Lawlors gave no quarter and twenty nine were killed or drowned.

Three boat loads went down in a place Poll na dTriur. It was three weeks later when the last of the bodies was recovered from the river. Not one of the Lawlors was killed but twelve were badly maimed. These twelve bore the brunt of the fight and held the strand at the beginning of the fight. Aherne was killed in the fight but Hacket their leader fled.

Races were held in Ballyeagh up to 1858.

Mike Griffin
Ballyeagh, Co. Kerry

The influence of Irish in Kerry English and a trip to Castleisland

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

…..As the years pass
one insensibly makes many of these phrases one’s own. There is a gay
inconsequence about your Kerryman’s talk. Rabelasian at times, he is impatient
of the restraints of a pseudo culture that would seek to shackle his ready
tongue. Conscious of the inadequacies of English, he rifles the rich store of our own tongue to add colour and imagery to his talk. Someone is classified as a
mean bacach and we have him in focus at once. He will refer with feeling to the
shortcomings of a cabóg and we share his impatience with the bosthoon. The
average Kerryman is close to the soil and we are one with him there with this
difference, that his sense of values gives him pride in his background.

Words, accents,
idiom, what a fascinating field for him who delights to listen. In individuality
of speech Kerry is perhaps more rewarding to the observer than any other county
of the thirty two. Listen to the salty arguments of dealing men in fair and
market., to the caustic asides of crusty old lads drowsing over pints in deep
cavernous pubs; to the helpers paying the comhar at the threshing; to the
passionate vociferations of those followers of the green and gold as their
heroes rise with elan to tear balls out of the skies in Croke Park; and listen
again wherever Kerrymen foregather to pay the last tribute to their dead.


Then and Now

John Hannon took this photo of Mrs. Mann at the door of her shop in Main Street.

The same corner of town today


I was in Castleisland

There is lots of history on Castleisland’s Main Street. I was struck by the irony of the name of the pub on  which I saw the above plaque.

The great Con Houlihan is well remembered.

The above three pictures were on display in a shop window.

I have no idea of the era of the post box.

This landmark building was unoccupied last time I was here. I was delighted to see it back in business.

You all know how much I love a charity shop. I met a lovely lovely lady, Nora, in the Vincent de Paul shop but it was in the NCBI shop that I discovered these.

I do a spot of knitting so I know how much time and effort went into these creations. The green and pink doll are one doll.  You turn her over and you have her alter ego. They call her a topsy turvy doll.

The lady who knits these is Jan Wesley and she is 88 years young. She sells her knitwear in aid of the NCBI, so this shop in Castleisland is well worth a visit. The dolls are a snip at €10 and the tea cozy was €12.


Craftshop back in Town (temporarily)

Until June 3 2018 there will be a craftshop in Galvin’s Off licence premised in William Street. Why not pop in and take a look a these Craft Makers wares


Style with  a Listowel Connection

This is Niamh Kenny from Listowel at Punchestown Ladies’ Day last week.

This is the piece in Saturday’s Irish Times. Niamh and her friend, Mary O’Halloran caught the eye of a journalist. Competing at Ladies Day is part of the fun and enjoyment of a day at the Races for many ladies. It’s worth the investment. The prizes are big. As Mary says, “We’re gambling on ourselves.”

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