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: NKRO Page 1 of 4

NKRO, Changes since 2015 and some Families with a Kerry Connection

First Meeting of North Kerry Reaching Out

May the Lord have mercy on the souls of the good friends no longer with us.


Talking to Horses


A chat with a horse or indeed any animal can be quite therapeutic.


All of the following businesses have left town since 2015 


Some Familiar Names

Every now and again, someone decides to Google their family name and a random search brings them to Listowel Connection. Because of the diversity of content in the blog there are thousands of references to families that have some Kerry connection.


 Two of these searchers got in touch recently.

Photo; Tralee Today

We are all familiar with Hilsers Jewellers. Their Tralee store was recently in the news because they suffered a robbery in which two very valuable diamond rings were stolen. The famous clock is presently down for repair works

Here is the email from Andrew Sawdon;

Hello, Hilsers were one of several from the black forest clock making district in ireland in the nineteenth and are still in business – hilser, wehrly, maurer, hartmann, laufer. They were mainly related to one another – cousins and in laws and there are six or so jewellers shops, still in family ownership around ireland – Sigo, Galway, Derry, Bandon, Kilrush.Ennis.

His email would seem to indicate that the family no longer own the Tralee shop.

I asked Andrew a few questions. Here is his response;

Hi here  – 

They were clockmakers originally.

The Tralee shop was bought by Billy Nolan a long time ago. I think that since then it traded as Hilser, as Billy Nolan at Hilser and as Nolan and Hilser.

Billy Nolan bought the shop from Freddy Burkley, (carl frederick) who was the son of Engelbert Burkley, who was nephew of the Mr Hilser and before that it was owned, said Nolan,  by Cromer (Kromer) another clockmaker from the same homeland, whose own name business carried on elsewhere for many years.

One misfortune that Englbert Burkley had suffered was to get interned during the first world war – in Germany because he was a naturalised brit. It was not until 1980 or so i  think that a Burkley shop opened under under their own name, in Cork, when grandfather Burkley son of Englebert, was still in the business. The family went back in London to the 1780s. They were also related to Kleiser of Kleiser pianos limerick.

The hilser shop that is still so far as i know in the family is hilser in bandon, owned by miriam foley-hilser – she had closed their long running in cork business some years ago.

The details above may not be exact, but theres the general picture.

Were they jewish? No. They came from a very catholic part of the world, with great monasteries and many of the farms have little chapels of their own.

Actually there is connection between religion and their business. They had been woodcarvers and then made clocks out of wood as a winter occupation in the farm houses. As they had carved religious statues – which the jews and protestants dont (second commandment) they incorporated them into clocks – a monk rings a bell or a procession of apostles trundles by.


My second correspondent comes from nearer to home. Here is the email from Declan Mulcahy.

Hello, i seen your blog which contained a poster from 1965 of the Maurice Mulcahy band, and i was wondering if it would be possible to get the contact details of Liam O Hainnin, about the poster and if he has any more,


Declan Mulcahy

I have passed on the request. If anyone has any memories of Maurice Mulcahy or of dancing the night away to the strains of his big band, I’d love to hear from you.

NKRO, Pavilion in Ballybunion, A Young Danny O’Mahoney and Listowel Streets

This sculpture stands in Listowel Town Square. It represents the river Feale and the fort or lios which gives its name to the town. It was designed by local artist, Tony OCallaghan. Tony was a teacher in Scoil Realta na Maidine. He was a skilled artist in copper. He was also a town councillor.


NKRO Back in the Day

Local historians at one of the early meetings of NKRO

Vincent Carmody, Cara Trant, Joe Harrington, Mary Cogan, Ger Greaney and Kay O’Leary


A Long Shot

Every now and again someone who is browsing the internet finds their way to Listowel Connection. Sometimes they contact me to see if I know any more about who or what they are searching for. Sometimes I can help or I know someone who can.

But this one has me stumped. The below message was left as a comment on an old post about showbands. The commenter did not leave a name or any means of knowing who it is.

I’m printing it here in the hope that the person who posted the comment or someone who knows them will be in touch.

“I’m an old friend of the late Buddy Dalton from 1962 when he played with his Dad in Ballybunnion We were Mc Faddens Stage Show and showed there all that summer 1963 I would love to get his C.D don’t know where to look If you can help please it would mean the world to me Thank you”


Bumpers at the Pavilion in Ballybunion

I love the nun and child in the centre car. This photo will bring back happy memories for many. It was shared on a Ballyduff Facebook page.

I came across this photo of Danny O’Mahoney on the same page. He hasn’t changed a bit.


Stay 2 Metres Apart Please

Hopefully these will soon be replaced and we can draw a little nearer to one another. When the story of the pandemic, Covid 19, in Listowel is written, these photos will tell their own story.

John Paul 11 Graveyard and A Trip down Memory Lane and Mother’s Medicine in the 1950s

 Harp and Lion in May 2020


Lest we Forget

On VE Day 2020


St John Paul 11 Cemetery

I visited my husband’s grave last week.

Sea shells, a candle and crochet covered stones, tributes from family and friends.


From the Archives

In Greaney’s Spar at an NKRO event

Maria Leahy, Ger Greaney, Eilish Wren, Damien Stack, Grace Kelly, Jimmy Deenihan, Mary Cogan, Robert Pierse and James Kenny

Jimmy Deenihan and Billy Keane on the viewing stand at an old St. Patrick’s Day parade

Fr. Pat Moore R.I.P. signing for friends at the launch of his book, Weathering a Storm


I Remember it well

The hot water bottle eased every pain unless it leaked and scotched you half to death.

Sudocrem s still my go to unction for everything.

Dockleaves were for nettle stings

( Neantóg a dhoigh mé, cupóg a leigheas mé is a  seanfhochal meaning a nettle burned me, a dock cured me]

Lucozade was found to have no curative properties but it probably replaced any sugar loss.

Seven up had to be flat to work. Again, I’d say replacing sugar may be its only curative function.

We all know teas and toast is the best “meal” for a sick or recuperating child.

Convent Bell, Opening of The Garden of Europe and NKRO

Canon’s Height, Listowel in March 2020


Convent Bell

The bell from Listowel’s Presentation Convent now sits beside St. Mary’s Parish Church.


Official Opening of Garden of Europe

Listowel’s Garden of Europe has a strong German presence and that has been so since its opening. The Garden was a project of Listowel Rotary Club and the idea was to have a garden representing each country of the European Union and as well as plants from that country it would have a piece of statutory  representing someone famous who came from the country.  Germany was the only country that responded to a request for a piece of sculpture. They sent us Schiller. So it was decided to make a kind of German Garden of Europe in a gesture of peace and reconciliation.

The photographs below were taken by John (Junior) Griffin and feature Mervyn Taylor a Jewish T.D. who did the honours, members of the Jewish Irish community and members of Listowel Rotary Club.


October 2011 in The Saddle Bar

This traditional musical event was organised by NKRO (North Kerry Reaching Out). This group was the brainchild of Ger Greaney (in the blue shirt below). It functioned for a few years before eventually folding due to everyone having other commitments and Ger’s moving away from Listowel.

John R.’s window, Ballybunion cove, NKRO remembered and Aghadoe, Co. Kerry

On John R.’s Christmas Window


Druids or Starlings

Last week I posted this photo which I took while walking along the clifftop in Ballybunion. This is what I wrote:

Druid’s Lair is located on the Cliff Path Walk north of the town, overlooking a sheer drop to the rocks below. This area is steeped in folklore and legend, with magnificent views of the Wild Atlantic Way in the distance. Deep in the pages of Ballybunion’s history is a story of Druid worship, when this turbulent epoch saw human sacrifices made to the Celtic god Mananann.

It is said that centuries ago, on May mornings as the dawn broke, sacrificial offerings were made to honour the Celtic god. This involved placing a victim at the abyss near the Scolt facing the Shannon Estuary. Specially-chosen executioners commenced the gruesome ceremony by striking blows to the victim’s head; a garrote was then used to complete the sacrifice, and the body was cast over the cliffs into the raging tide below.

Today the area is quiet and peaceful, allowing visitors to enjoy the walk along the cliffs, blissfully unaware of the blood-thirsty history behind the name Scoilt Na Dhrida! 


I was contacted by Jim MacMahon who told me that he knew this place as Scolt na Droid, a reference to the starlings that gather there to this day.

So I went back to No starlings. I consulted Danny Houlihan’s book and discovered that had got its information from there. I contacted Danny and he says that indeed this place is known as Starlings’ Cove today but he heard about the old mythological name from a family whose ancestors lived in Ballybunion before the Famine. So Ballybunion people, Scolt na Dhrida or Scolt na Droid or maybe Druid, take your pics.


Do You Remember the Year of The Gathering?

There we were at The Seanchaí at the very first meeting of North Kerry Reaching Out, an organisation set up to entice emigrants back for a visit.


In Aghadoe

Recently I went to Aghadoe to visit the grave of a recently departed very dear friend. It’s a very beautiful part of Killarney that is fairly new to me.

This looks like the remains of an old tower or keep. The sign below sheds no light on its history.

In the graveyard is the ruins of an old albbey and as we have seen in  any other such churches around Kerry people are now buried within the walls of the church.

While I was in the churchyard I explored a little and I found over the hedge is the newer lawn cemetery. I had not encountered a private cemetery like this one before. It’s very uniform and military looking.



Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén