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: Noel Roche Page 1 of 3

Old Film Stars, Ballybunion and a Chameleon

Bee at Work

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú


Childhood Heroes

Noel Roche, formerly of Listowel, put these 2 photos and the following text in his Facebook post.

Arlington Cemetery. Two of my Heroes, Audie Murphy. Most Decorated Combat Soldier in World Two and Star of Cowboy and War Movies in the 50s/60s.

One of the Best Friends I ever had. Tim Mulcahey who served his Country Proudly in Vietnam. Gone but Never Forgotten.

Noel grew up in Listowel, one of many local boys in thrall to cowboys films. With few opportunities for entertainment, the cinema was like Disneyland. Stars like Audie Murphy and Nelson Eddie brought a small glimpse of a romantic other universe to small-town Listowel.

Such was their influence on people like Noel that they have never forgotten those days and the stars who coloured their young lives.


Ballybunion’s Cliff Walk

Ballybunion is heaven on earth in the sunshine.

The Cliff Walk has many textbook perfect geographical features.

These are some the wildflowers you will see along the way. Helpful signs identify them for you.

Social distancing is a bit difficult on the narrow path but walkers do their best to give you ample space to pass.


Returning to Education

I photographed John and Lillian Lenehan in 2019 while they were revisiting North Kerry. John and Lillian lived for a while in Moyvane and they retain a great love for and interest in this part of the world.

Now John is in the news in his home in Florida. At age 87, great grandfather John has undertaken to return to college. He is resuming his studies at Fordham University and plans to graduate next year. Here is a link to the snippet in the news

Return to Fordham


A Fact

If you are ever on Mastermind maybe this will help is you take chameleon as your specialist subject.

Chameleons DO’T change colour to blend in with the background. They change colour in response to emotions. They change colour when they are frightened, picked up, when they win a fight against another chameleon or when a female chameleon hoves into view.

The “fact” that chameleons change colour in order to camouflage themselves is completely untrue.

There are a few true facts about chameleons that are very little known.

Chameleons can remain motionless for several hours.

Chameleons eat very little. it was thought that they lived on air but that is untrue.

Chameleons can rotate and focus either eye to look in two completely different directions.

Chameleons are stone deaf.

Brent Geese, Craftshop na Méar, Hosiery Explained and a Magpie Drops in for a Take away

Brent Geese at Sunset in Beale

Ita Hannon


John Kelliher’s Drone Photos


Craftshop na Méar

Tom Fitzgerald took this photo of the Listowel Writers Week gang at  a craftshop Christmas event;

Mary Cogan,  Una Hayes, Eilish Wren, Bernie Carmody, Seán Lyons, Maureen Connolly and Masiréad Sharry

The late Eileen Hannon with Danny and Noreen O’Connell at the same event.


Deja Vu

Noel Roche


Hose and Half Hose

The question of hosiery came up last week when we were discussing Duhallow Knitwear and how it was always referred to in my home town as The Hosiery.

Our friend, Nicholas, did a bit of research on the internet and this is what he found.

I  believe it all started with mens’ wear – (late 13c., “covering of woven cloth or leather for the lower part of the leg, with or without feet,” from late Old English ‘hosa’ “covering for the leg”) and developed into basically everything that covered the leg from the knee to the ankle. 

At first, the hoses on the two legs were separate pieces of material- a solution was necessary to preserve modesty, so a cloth codpiece was invented to cover the gap in material.  this was amended to metal to cope with  a certain vulnerability to injury. In the 400s,  following a widespread outbreak of what we would now call (to spare blushes) a ‘social disease,’ the codpiece was essential to cover the effects and visible signs  of the disease and the manifold ‘medicines’ applied to combat it. I believe Gucci revived the codpiece in modern times as a fashion statement rather, I suppose, than as a ‘nod’ to the more indelicate associations.  And it was an unexpected motif in the Spring 2020 menswear collection by American designer Thom Browne, shown in Paris in 2019. Like everything else connected with male vanity, it is believed that codpieces were much aggrandized and exaggerated in size by some…. Henry the V111 was one who did this, as depicted in Holbien Junior’s portrait. I presume Kings, depending on male heirs to keep the line going, would at least, have to appear capable of doing so (or be prepared to behead his Queens and kick out the Pope).  

There is a contemporary male-worn item commonly used contact sports, and in ballet: the ‘jockstrap.’  

It is time to call a halt on this somewhat  distasteful topic. It may not all be suitable for your Blog. In any case, you have the final editorial call and you may disregard any or all of the above as you wish.


Piazza Express

During lockdown we are all taking time to observe Nature all around us. Part of that observation for a photographer is also capturing the moment in a snap.

Tom Fitzgerald was fascinated by this magpie who swopped down to take away the remains of his piazza.


The Confirmation Class of 2020

When the story of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is told these boys will be saying, “I remember it well. It was the year I was to make my Confirmation but….”

Photo: Scoil Realta na Maidine

Listowel from John Kelliher’s Drone, A Poem from Noel Roche, 1992 panto in Pres. and Speed Cameras

Swans at Rattoo

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Listowel in Lockdown

Drone photos from John Kelliher


HMS Pinafore 1992

Presentation Secondary School, Listowel operetta


Another Poem from Noel Roche

This poem needs no words of introduction or explanation. Noel says it best in his own words. And remember he is 40 years sober this year.


Bet You didn’t know this

The speed camera was invented to speed cars up not slow them down. A Dutch rally driver and engineer called Gatsonides wanted to take corners faster. His first device was 2 strips across the road. The first strip started a stop watch. The second stopped it. Then he thought of adding a camera so he not only had a record of the vehicle’s speed, he also had a picture of the car. He could see how much extra speed he could squeeze out of a corner by approaching it along a different line.

His invention was called the Gatsometer and speed cameras are often still referred to as Gatsos. He realised its application in the detection of speeding offences when he replaced the pressure sensitive strips with a radar beam.

Of course the Listowel connection is our own Irish GoSafe speed camera network has its headquarters in Listowel.


“Oh, lest the world should task you to recite….”

Ursula Stack sent us this Covid fact.

Dame Judi Dench has tasked herself with learning all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets during Covid 19 lockdown


From Isolation -Inspiration

Thank you, Nan Bailey for the heads up on this marvellous resource.

This is an initiative of the Irish Embassy in London.

From Isolation – Inspiration involves a series of short videos posted on the Embassy social media channels which feature individual Irish artists currently in domestic isolation performing their art – a musician, singer, poet, novelist, actor etc. The videos are filmed by the artist in their home or garden and are designed to inspire and bring solace and cheer in these testing times.

Access the recordings    HERE


A (very late) Message from Listowel Celtic PRO

Our own Barbara Mulvihill is nominated for the Best Actress Award in the Kevin Rowe Events Oskars.  She is raising money for St. James hospital.

If you want to vote for Barbara here is the link.

Best Actress at Kevin Rowe Events Oskars

Martin McCarthy is up for Best Actor. He is raising money for the Mercy Hospital Foundation.

A vote costs €1

NNB Voting closes this evening at 5.00

Kerry in Christmas 1902, Ballybunion, Knockanure, Activity at the bird house and a Quiz

Charles Street, Listowel in 2016


Nesting Birds Observed

by Tom Fitzgerald in his garden

Anyone home?

I’m right behind you


A Moderate Christmas in Kerry in 1902

From Kerry Sentinel, Wednesday, December 31, 1902

Christmas is gone, and the people of the kingdom have reason to congratulate themselves on the highly creditable manner in which the Great Festival has been observed in the county. We publish elsewhere particulars of ceremonies in the churches, which speak for themselves. And apart from the religious observances, the conduct of the people was satisfactory in the extreme. In years gone by—and not so very long ago either—the notion seemed to prevail amongst a section of the populace that Christmas was a privileged time when over-indulgence in liquid as well as solid refreshments and luxuries could be countenanced, and as a consequence there were numerous scenes of drunkenness, with their attendant miseries. That regrettable state of affairs was naturally most pronounced in large towns and villages, but things have changed for the better, and in town and country alike the year now drawing to a close has broken the record in reform.

Take Tralee, the capital of the ” Kingdom,” for example; The holydays just passed have been voted the most enjoyable known in the present generation. On the whole the people seemed to enjoy themselves to the fullest advantage, but they did so rationally, tempering their festivities with moderation. Of course there is an exception to every rule, no community is absolutely perfect and a few stragglers may have seen indulging themselves “not wisely but too well,” but they are not to be taken into account to any great extent under the circumstances. Taking the town in general, there was no real disturbance to disgrace the holiest season of the year. This fact was patent to all who were around, but the best proof of it was furnished by the last Tralee Petty Sessions. The business listed for disposal there was the lightest ever known in the history of the Court, the few paltry cases listed taking less than half an hour in hearing. The people of this large and populous district certainly have reason to be proud of the fact. We doubt, if there is a town in Ireland of the same size that can show a cleaner sheet. Mr. Sullivan, D.I.., expressed his admiration of the manner in which the people of all grades of society acted during the holydays. The publicans, he said, showed no desire to take advantage of the season, and that was only what he expected from them, knowing that the vast majority of them were most respectable people. “What we have said of Tralee, we believe, applies to the other towns in the “Kingdom,” and we repeat, that the people of Kerry are to be congratulated on the manner in which the greatest season of the year was observed.


Two Ballybunion Photos

 One evening a few years ago, as I was passing the recycling centre on the way to the beach I met this lady painting dolphins on the wall.

These toilets have been demolished. When work recommences on the new ones, Ballybunion will have state of the art facilities.


Sobriety in Rhyme 

One of the tools that helped Noel Roche on his rehab journey was his faith. In this poem/prayer he outlines how he takes life one day at a time and relies always on God’s help.

One Day

Lead me gently through the day

Don’t let me do it my own way.

If I stumble, let me fall,

If I can’t walk, let me crawl.

If I’m in denial let me doubt,

If I’m in self pity, let me pout.

If I’m in pain and it’s real

All I ask is, Let me feel.

Please don’t let me drink today

Because that would be the old way.

Oh Holy Father, don’t you see,

It’s Footprints time. Please carry me.

Hold me in your arms

Hold me near

I have faith in you, my God

Because its stronger than my fear.

Yes my faith is stronger than my fear today

So I’ll handle anything that comes my way.

I’ve got to work the steps, do the next thing that is right.

Ask God for help in the morning,

And thank him every night.


A Tree of Hope

The bishop and the late Fr. Pat Moore at a tree planting in Knockanure.


A Quiz from Mattie

These 32 clues correspond to the 32 counties of Ireland. Have fun.


Róisín Meaney is turning over a new leaf

The start of a new lockdown week,

And a better plan for my physique

I’ll yoga like crazy

I’ll stop being so lazy

And of chocolate, you won’t hear a squeak. 

Cocooning, St Patricks Day 2001 and the Roche family and an American take-away in China

NEWKD William Street, Listowel


Women in Media 2016

This is the time of year when, under normal circumstances,  I would be looking forward to WiM in Ballybunion.

Claire Hickey, Keelin Kissane and Anne Darby in Kilcooley’s in 2016


When this is all over…..

The agony and the ecstasy of lockdown in Mike O’Donnell’s incisive cartoons.

Hi Granny

Below is a link to the very best lockdown poem, in my opinion.

This Will all End


Knockanure in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2001


The Road to Recovery

Noel Roche grew up  in O’Connell’s Ave., Listowel.

This photograph was taken at a family reunion in 1970. Three of the Roche children died in infancy and this is the clan as it was in 1970. Sadly they have lost a few more siblings since.

Noel gave me the names;

Front left to right. Dolores, Eileen, Peg, Jacqueline, Val and Dolly. 

middle l to r; John, Noel, Paddy, Jim, Mike and David. 

back l to r; Dick, Eamonn and Tom. 

Dolly was the oldest. I’m the youngest

Noel is a recovering alcoholic. He is proud to say that he will be 40 years sober this year. He used poetry as one of the tools to help him through the hard process of rehabilitation. I hope that hearing his story may help others who are struggling at a time that is hard for everyone but especially hard for anyone in the grip of addiction.


A Covid Fact

In China a McDonalds delivery includes temp. check of food preparer, packer and delivery driver.

(Source; Greg McDonough on Listowel Covid 19)

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