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: Neil Armstrong

Bolton’s Cross and Ball Alley poem

In response to a query about the Boltons after whom the cross was named. Michael Lynch, County Archivist  has done a bit of searching and he has come up with the following;

“In relation to Bolton’s Cross, I had a look at Griffith’s Valuation, and found that for Skehanerin Lower, the Knight of Kerry is listed as being occupier of 4 plots of plantation land (i.e. forested land) in this area, 3 strips of which border the road leading to and from Bolton’s Cross.  The immediate lessor is given as Robert Bolton.

The Tithe Applotment Book (1830) for Listowel parish lists “Mr Bolton’s Demesne” and “Mr Bolton” as holder of the same land, along with another plot listed to 2 other men (Mulvihill and Horan).

As to who these Boltons were, it is not easy to say!  The “Kerry Evening Post” (22 May 1833) gives a marriage of Robert Ellis Bolton, youngest son of John Bolton, Prospect Lodge, Listowel, to Christiana, 3rd daughter of Mr Haycroft, Doneraile.  This couple seems to have moved to Doneraile, as subsequent records show a Robert Ellis Bolton L.A.H.D. (I don’t know what that set of initials stands for!) buried there on 23 April 1890, aged 77 years & 10 months.  Christiana was buried at Doneraile on 9 July 1886 (aged 71).

I tried for a “Prospect Lodge, Listowel” in Valerie Bary’s “Houses of Kerry”, but no joy there either.”

Thank you, Michael. That sheds some light on the matter for us. I googled L.A.H.D. and got nowhere. I wonder if any reader has any idea what those letters stand for.

The original request for information on Bolton’s Cross came from Jonah McKenna Moss. In a follow up letter he said:

“The Justice family was a large wealthy Anglo-Irish protestant family), with two branches which resided in Kerry, and Mallow area in Cork. All the various family trees agree on the point that the daughter of John Bolton and Mary Justice, Julia Bolton married one of the Mallow Justices (my ancestor), uniting the two families again. The Mallow Justices married into the Allens, Ashetons, Barret, and Holmes families as well. One branch converted to Catholicism and moved to Boston and Melbourne Australia. 

Essentially, I am trying to figure out why there is a place in Listowel called Bolton’s Crossroads, and which Boltons it was named for, since there is a high likelihood that they might have been connected to mine. “


John Fitzgerald penned this poem about a memorable joust in the old ball alley. He says

Was delighted to see the piece relating to the artwork generated on the old ball alley. Sad to have seen it neglected for so long especially since it was a great gathering ground for young and old when I was growing up..

The attached is a piece I wrote relating to the one of the many great games we were privileged to see in the 1950’s. At that time youngsters had to apprentice on the outside wall of the alley facing towards Bridge Road on a mud floor until they were good enough to mix with the masters in the alley proper.

The foursome mentioned in the poem are Junior Griffin, Tom Enright and Dermot Buckley from the Bridge Road and John Joe Kenny from Patrick Street.

Alas.only Junior survives, and, by all accounts, is still hale and hearty.”

I know the poem will bring back many happy memories for Junior and a few more who were young in Listowel in the 1950s


Standing on the dead line

I face the pockmarked wall,

it hides the bridge above me

fond memories I recall,

the side walls mark the

the concrete floor the stage,

four players take their places

the finest of their age.

The cocker’s hopped and

Junior’s feet fix solidly

he contemplates the angle

of the first trajectory.

His swinging arm begins the

the ball’s hit low and fast,

a signal to John Joe and Tom

this will be no soft match.

Dermot standing by his side

sees his neighbour win first

a simple game to twenty one

no ace is easily lost.

I watch them from the grassy

behind the dead ball line

 hear the cries of older boys

cheer each one at a time

and in the space of half an

the ball has weaved its way

through every nook and cranny

in this battlefield of play,

the long ball to the back line

the close one to the wall

the deadly butted killer

seemed to hit no wall at all

and in end the four of them

take leave just as they came

and beckon us to take our

and learn more of their game,

the game that gave such

the game I got to know.

when I was young and full of

in the Alley years ago.


I met Junior recently and I asked him who won the handball match. He told me that there were no winners or losers because as soon as you won one game you were challenged to a rematch. 

There was usually a little wager on the game. Money was scarce enough so the bet was small but once Junior was on the winning side of a 2/6 (a half crown) bet. He went double or quits until the money was astronomical, and no body had any hope of paying it.

In those days the glory of winning was everything. People did not expect medals or trophies. They were happy just to win.


Some very interesting stuff here on post war Irish in Australia.


A picture by John S. Doyle of Neil Armstrong, Saul Bellow and Robert Lowell, TCD 1976, posted on Twitter by Rosita Boland.

Military History: the killing of D.I O’Sullivan

 One of the worst atrocities of The Troubles in Lisrtowel was the killing of D.I. O’Sullivan.

The following are the statements of two of the men who shot him. The statements are very similar and were probably written jointly.

The order to kill O’Sullivan came from GHQ in Dublin. There was reluctance to carry it out and it seemed difficult to find someone with the stomach for the task and the reprisals which would follow. The Listowel unit seemed demoralised at the time and the Newtowsandes unit appears to have been the most hardline in the area. They were also involved in the death of Sir Aurthur Vickers and the burning of his house.

The killing of the D.I.  took place on a Fair day in Listowel. O’Sullivan was known to wear a steel vest as he knew he was a marked man. The statements refer to 14 shots being fired, many of which must have been to the head. Many people have refered to the presence of his child, a young girl at the scene. Different reports had her walking down to meet him as he walked home, or actually holding his hand when he was shot. Other reports say that the child was a boy. The presence of the child at the scene of the atrocity added to the outrage felt in certain quarters at the time.

Below is the statement of John Lenehan from Charles Street. He was convicted of the murder of Inspector O’Sullivan, along with three other men. They were all sentenced to death. They survived only becuse the Truce arrived before the sentences were carried out. As we know from the statements of the men who killed Inspector O’Sullivan, the four men convicted were innocent.


This photo was taken inside the Royal Arch Room, The Grand Lodge and the chapel of Freemason’s Hall in Molesworth Street, Dublin. The Freemasons building was open to the public for Heritage Week. 


One giant swing….

Neil Armstrong, who passed away at the weekend, playing golf in Ballybunion in 1997. He visited Kerry in 1997 to open a NASA exhibition in the County Museum – and he played golf in Ballybunion which he described as one of his favourite courses. Dan O’Sullivan was captain of Ballybunion Golf Course that year and played a four-ball with him. He describes Neil Armstrong was a real gentleman.

On July 21 1969 this was the front page of The New York Times


In Listowel for Heritage Week there was a talk in The Seanchaí on Kerry’s political dynasties.

Jer. was there with his  camera and he took these 2 photos.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén